Equality and discrimination in South Asia


The persistence of inequality in both income and access to decent work is a key concern of the ILO and its constituents in India, and tackling it requires strong labour market institutions that can respond with appropriate policies and programmes.

The ILO’s technical support focuses on strengthening the ability of institutions to analyse the labour market along the lines of gender, ethnicity, caste, religion and migrant status, all of which are explicitly covered as grounds of non–discrimination under the Constitution of India. It also provides support to strengthen the reach and effectiveness of labour laws and programmes for specific categories of workers such as domestic workers, home-based workers, sewage and sanitary workers, and those who are at particular risk of exploitative practices, such as bonded labour and the worst forms of child labour.

The ILO in India pays particular attention to gender equality, and works with workers’ and employers’ organizations on equal pay, sexual harassment, maternity protection, policies related to the work-life balance (including unpaid work), and improving the legal status of women in the informal economy.

Throughout South Asia, inequality is a feature of all labour markets. ILO technical assistance focuses on improving existing legislation, policies and programmes that promote equality, and building the capacity of the constituents to plan, deliver and monitor specific programmes for women and others who face labour market disadvantages. Examples include gender sensitive value chain development in Afghanistan; improving the legal status, working conditions and, entrepreneurship capacity of home-based workers in Pakistan, India and Nepal; awareness building and improving the representation of women garment sector workers in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Key resources

  1. Minimum wage setting practices in domestic work: an inter-state analysis within India – Neetha N.

    The aim of the study is to do a comparative analysis of the states that have notified minimum wages for domestic workers with a view to draw lessons from their experiences.

  2. Preventing and responding to sexual harassment at work : guide to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, India

    India in 2013 passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, in 2013. These guidelines have been prepared according to the Act to facilitate implementation of the Act among governments at central, state and district levels, and employers’, workers’ and women’s organizations.

  3. International Women's Day 2015: Women and the Future of Work

    The ILO’s webpage on the International Women’s Day 2015 which was used as an opportunity to highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action , a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights.

  4. Gender Equality Research Guide

    The research guide points you to the most relevant and reliable sources on Equality and Gender Discrimination.