Conversations on Working in Freedom

The four part discussion series will build on ongoing conversations between ‘Working in Freedom’ programme partners to link evidence and gendering policies, and highlight the lessons learned. They can be drawn upon to inform policy efforts as well as strategize effectively on the ground.

First Session:

The first session of the four-part series of conversations was held on June 18, 2020 to mark the International Domestic Workers Day, observed on June 16 every year. The topic in focus was ‘Domestic Workers and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Understanding Challenges Ahead and Evolving Collective Strategies’.

The conversation ‘Domestic Workers and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ can be viewed on ILO India Facebook

Second Session:

On the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, a second session was organized, with a focus on ‘Trafficking in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and strategies for its prevention’. The conversation was held on 30 July 2020.

The conversation ‘Trafficking in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ can be viewed on ILO YouTube

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the fault lines that further disadvantage certain types of workers in a crisis, women have suffered greater job loss, unpaid work is on the increase while incidence of domestic violence and harassment also seems to be on the rise. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the informal economy, the need to link evidence to policy making and engendering the crisis-response process to include the perspectives and rights of the most marginalised groups of workers in even more pressing. As governments grapple with containing the virus spread and protecting the economy, engaging in social dialogue with important stakeholders is essential to move towards a “better” normal.

Current responses to the immediate needs of vulnerable workers has been mixed; some workers are better protected as a result of existing public infrastructure and new state-led initiatives while others have reported loss of all means of livelihood in addition to no access to basic food and housing in cities. The influence of proposed COVID related measures by governments and employers on workers’ safety is still unfolding as the search for a vaccine is ongoing. To create robust policy frameworks that can protect most vulnerable workers in a crisis, the Work in Freedom (WIF) programme, ILO will be hosting a series of online seminars to engage experienced researchers and trade unionists in a conversation on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable workers, policy frameworks that need reflection and formulating collective strategies for the way forward.

Since 2013, the Work in Freedom programme has reached out through implementation partners, led by trade unions who have worked on issues of mobility and choice and decent employment opportunities that impact large numbers of women in the informal economy, significantly in domestic and garment work. An important aspect of the work carried out over the past few years has been to conduct exhaustive research that contributed significantly to programme design. The discussion series will build on ongoing conversations between programme partners and experienced researchers to highlight some of the lessons learned which can be drawn upon to inform policy efforts as well as strategize effectively on the ground.