106th International Labour Conference

World of Work Summit: A better future for women at work


High-Level Panel

A High-Level Panel will take place in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, addressing the main challenges women face in obtaining decent work, and what is needed to overcome such obstacles. Among the issues to be discussed: Work-family balance; Women, men and the care economy; Violence and harassment as a barrier to decent work for women; and the Gender pay gap/equal pay for work of equal value.

The Panel will respond to questions from Conference delegates, focusing on areas that are coming to light or being confirmed as stubborn obstacles to delivering on decent work for women. Following the release of the ILO-Gallup report in March 2017, Towards a better future for women and work: Voices of women and men, confirming that women would prefer to be working at a paid job, and that work-family balance/ lack of affordable care is considered to be the main challenge to women at work across the globe, with unequal pay, unfair treatment/harassment and discrimination also being significant obstacles, particularly in certain regions, responses to these issues will be highlighted by the Panel.

10:05 - Opening by the President of the International Labour Conference
10:10 - Introduction by the ILO Director-General, Mr Guy Ryder
10:15 - Video message from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
10:20 - Panel Discussion moderated by Nozipho Mbanjwa, CNBC, South Africa


  • Sharan Burrow,  General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  • Linda Kromjong, Secretary–General, International Organisation of Employers (IOE)
  • Rajeev Dubey, Group President (HR and Corporate Services) & CEO (After-Market Sector), Member of GEB, Mahindra & Mahindra
  • Myrna Cunningham, Board member, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
  • Rehema Ludanga, Regional Secretary, Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers
12.05: Closing remarks by ILO Director-General

Audience interaction

The discussions will be supplemented by direct audience interaction via the ILC Events App, available to all Conference delegates. Delegates can share their views through ongoing polls throughout the session, and the results of the polls will further inform the discussion taking place between the audience and the panelists. Building on the Director-General’s introductory remarks and following a short scene-setting video, the Moderator will launch four rounds of questions from Conference delegates (two questions by the Government group, one by the Employers’ group and one by the Workers’ group in each round).

Addresses by Heads of States

The Summit will also include high-level keynote speakers who will address these and related issues, highlighting the actions they have taken as world leaders to advance gender equality in the world of work. The following high-level speakers will address the Summit:

About women at work

As ILO research shows, the progress of women in the world of work, both in terms of the quantity and the quality of jobs, has been exceedingly slow and in some areas has come to a halt entirely. At the same time, a recent ILO-Gallup report, based on a survey of 142 countries and territories, shows that women want to work in paid jobs. There remains a significant gap between women’s aspirations and the labour market reality. It is time to close this gap.

This year’s World of Work Summit is dedicated to the theme of “A better future for women at work”. The Summit will provide an opportunity to participate in an interactive panel discussion. The Summit is expected to provide a significant contribution to the Women at Work Centenary Initiative as well as the Future of Work Centenary Initiative, eliciting cutting edge thinking on the issue, as well as highlighting transformative action that has been taken by ILO constituents and other stakeholders, which could inform the ILO agenda on gender equality and non-discrimination moving forward beyond the centenary.

As the ILO centenary approaches, it is an important opportunity to examine and reflect upon the obstacles to decent work for women, and what is needed to overcome such obstacles. This reflection and call to action is essential if the transformation foreseen in the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development is to become a reality. Both decent work and gender equality are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and are closely linked. Decent work for women brings decent work for all.

A key outcome of the Summit is the engagement to ensure a better future for women at work. The outcome of the discussion during the Summit will also help to inform further discussions, including in the context of the Future of Work High Level Global Commission, the preparations for the 2019 centenary International Labour Conference, and the standard setting process on violence and harassment at the 2018 Conference.

Linkages to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will situate the ILO’s efforts within the broader development agenda and help to scale up the ILO’s action and impact.