The ILO policy response to the crisis - the Global Jobs Pact - has provided many countries with measures aimed at restoring employment levels and supporting decent work.
The 2010 Annual Ministerial Review focused on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment”. A joint ILO/UNDP roundtable, organized during ECOSOC’s High-level Segment, looked at how the Pact policy measures were used by countries to stimulate economic recovery, protect workers and generate employment.
Discussants agreed that the current global situation should be seen as an opportunity to shape new gender equality policy responses. The Global Jobs Pact has special provisions to promote and support the role of women in the workplace.
The Pact states that "recovery packages during economic crises need to take into account the impact on women and men and integrate gender concerns in all measures. In discussions on recovery packages, both regarding their design and assessing their success, women must have an equal voice with men."
Moushira Khattab, Egypt's Minister of State for Family and Population emphasized that "states are under obligation to fulfill the rights of each and every individual without discrimination. And to ensure the rights means having to deal with the obstacles hampering access - this will necessarily make the states focus on the gender issue, on women."
“The public-private partnership and corporate social responsibility are assumptions that we have to start from. To do this, we have to have more cooperation at the national and international levels. We have to have a legal framework that ensures human rights are implemented. We have to allocate resources, to focus on education, education of children, capacity-building of women responsive to labour market needs, and invest in the human infrastructure", Khattab told Inter-Press Service (IPS) in an interview.
Khattab stressed the importance of integrating the gender dimension in all measures adopted. "We're not just reacting to the crisis, but creating a roadmap for sustainable development", she said.
Drawing on experiences shared by participants, some countries stand better in recovery than others. Counter-cyclical measures backed by strong stimulus packages paid off in Brazil, India, South Africa, El Salvador and Indonesia, where the policy measures advocated by the ILO Jobs Pact were adapted to national needs.
Among those, the employment guarantee schemes, social safety net programmes used with success in India and Pakistan, grant employment at minimum wage to millions of people living in rural areas. In India, the “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act” (MGNREGA) allowed over 45 million people to benefit from this measure in 2008/9, with women constituting over 73 per cent of the MGNREGA workforce. The main objective of the programme is to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage employment in a year to one adult member of every family. “This policy measure is based on the idea that work is empowering and it doesn’t need to be used only in times of crisis”, said Rania Antonopoulos, Director of the Gender Equality and Economy Programme at the Levy Institute.
Ronnie Goldberg, Executive Vice-President and Chief Policy Officer at the United States Council for International Business, told participants "the Global Jobs Pact is not a panacea. Its major utility is highlighting the interconnections and diversity of situations and remedies being implemented by the international community.”
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