International Labour Organization
South-East Asia and the Pacific Multidisciplinary Advisory Team
Asian Regional Consultation on the Beijing Platform for Action:
Gender and Women's Issues in the World of Work:
Progress and Challenges for the Future
6-8 October 1999
COMMON UNDERSTANDING 1
Globalization, Employment, Women, and the Girl Child
- In the context of globalization, governments can promote equal employment opportunities for women through:
- commissioning studies to gather data on gender gaps and sharing the results, including surveys on emerging job opportunities in the 21st century;
- ratifying and applying international labour standards, as well as enforcing national legislation more forcefully;
- improving women's access to training, credit facilities, productive resources, and markets;
- aiming to ensure girls and boys have equal access to schooling at all levels, paying particular attention to rural areas, and to change attitudes in favour of gender equality - in families as well society at large; and
- ensuring that women have equal access to public works programmes, special social funds, and social safety nets.
- Employers' and workers' organizations can facilitate women's equal access to training (in particular in non-traditional trades), credit, support services, social safety nets, etc. Employers should understand that it makes good business sense to promote equal employment opportunities and treatment for women and men. Trade unions should establish a special monitoring system to ensure women's equal access to resources, training, markets, legislation enforcement, etc.
- The tripartite partners should meet regularly to agree on specific action plans and monitoring mechanisms.
- Governments and employers should be encouraged to provide child care facilities, where they are lacking and needed.
- Donor funding should be directed towards social support systems and social safety nets, and should include funds to organize women in the informal sector.
- In order to reduce the vulnerability of migrant workers, States should:
- consider ratifying relevant UN and ILO Conventions;
- conclude bilateral agreements to facilitate regular migration and employment;
- promote alternative employment opportunities in areas of high emigration; and
- ensure freedom of association for migrant workers, as well as social security and assistance and counseling.
- In migrant-receiving countries, rescue homes should be established and migrants made more aware of their rights, and migrant-sending countries should appoint women staff in their embassies abroad to look after female migrant workers.
- In order to reduce the vulnerability of girl child, States should consider ratifying the ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 concerning Minimum Age, 1973 and Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999, and launch a tripartite campaign to raise awareness of the ills of child labour.
- In order to make home workers and domestic workers less vulnerable, States should extend the reach of labour legislation to cover employees who work in their own home and in the homes of others.
- The ILO should intensify dialogue with international financial institutions so they ensure that:
- the burden of structural adjustment does not fall disproportionately on women workers;
- adequate social services are provided equally to women and men workers; and
- special consideration is given to funding women's entrepreneurship and self-employment schemes.
- The ILO should provide the following assistance:
- undertake gender sensitization training for its own staff and constituents;
- involve more women in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of technical cooperation projects;
- increase women's participation in its activities and improve the gender balance of its staff, and seek to persuade constituents that women should constitute a greater proportion of ILO delegates;
- establish a gender-disaggregated data bank, and distribute gender-relevant information; and
- assist countries to carry out gender-based analyses and develop gender-sensitive training programmes in various sectors of the economy, including in non-traditional forms of employment.
Women's Rights in the World of Work
- To achieve gender equality at work, efforts to change attitudes on gender questions should begin in primary schools and extend to media, civil society, government officials and the social partners
- Governments should set a good example and targets for employing women workers through, for example, gender budgeting and flexible work arrangements, including those designed to address family responsibilities.
- Anti-discrimination legislation is needed. It should be simple and capable of being implemented in the particular circumstances of an individual country.
- Ratification of international Conventions is not enough. Their principles need to be effectively incorporated into national legislation.
- Labour legislation should apply to all employment sectors, and all categories of workers.
- Governments should consider broadening the role of labour inspectors beyond enforcement. New roles should include promoting good practices in the area of working conditions, both in the formal and informal sectors.
- Appropriate legislation is needed to combat violence at the workplace, and it should be effectively implemented.
- Special efforts should be made to make women and men more aware of their rights at work.
- Commissions or institutions concerned with the status of women should be established or strengthened to promote gender equality, in particular in the world of work.
- Where existing legislation combating discrimination on grounds of sex does not yet apply to the world of work, governments should consider extending its coverage to do this, and should set up supervisory bodies in this field.
- Care should be taken to ensure that protective legislation does not adversely affect women's access to employment, training, etc.
- Where legislation is lacking or deficient in areas such as maternity benefits, consultation or collective agreements can encourage employers to take innovative measures.
- Employers could also be encouraged to promote gender equality within enterprises through incentives, recognition and awards.
- In all its activities, ILO should promote attitudinal change, recognize all forms of work and take into account women's particular needs.
- The ILO should provide the following assistance:
- help develop a system for monetary evaluation of unpaid work such as household duties;
- carry out analyses of the economic implications of international standards relevant to women workers such as maternity benefits; and
- share and widely distribute information on best practices for achieving gender equality at work.
Power-Sharing and Partnerships
- Governments are encouraged to integrate gender perspectives in all policies. They should:
- ensure equal access to social security benefits for both men and women;
- make children more aware of the need for sharing family responsibilities in primary schools;
- consider the ratification of the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, No. 156, and integrate its provisions in national legislation;
- consider providing financial support to "family-friendly" employers, providing child care and other support services for sharing family responsibilities; and
- compile existing laws regarding the protection of women workers and equal rights in one reference document.
- National authorities are encouraged to adopt positive action for women in decision-making, especially at the policy-making level, as well as in hiring and employment practices, in particular in the public sector.
- Governments, trade unions and NGOs should undertake awareness-raising training on women workers' rights and existing social services.
- Data and information on various gender-related issues could be updated by government in collaboration with employers' and workers' organizations.
- Women should be encouraged to organize themselves to form political platforms and seek seats in legislative bodies. Governments, employers' and workers' organizations, as well as NGOs, should also promote women's participation in decision-making. The representation of women should be ensured and promoted in national tripartite committees.
- Media and NGOs could be used to strengthen women's networks and to change attitudes, including among women themselves.
- Employers' organizations should:
- inform their members that diversity in the workplace makes good business sense;
- undertake sensitization training for managers on gender equality at work; and
- c) consider promotional measures to recognize family-friendly practices through award systems.
- Employers' and workers organizations should be encouraged to negotiate measures that provide for flexible work arrangements and child-care support, subject to minimum requirements of relevant legislative provisions.
- Trade unions should establish women's wings at the union level, and a women's committee at the federation level.
- To achieve equal representation in decision-making positions in the world of work the following measures should be considered by governments, employers' and workers' organizations:
- establishing a compendium of women capable of filling such positions, at national or other levels;
- applying a merit-based appointment and promotion system; and
- giving attention on a regular basis to issues of gender equality at meetings of national tripartite consultative committees.
- The ILO can help its constituents through:
- supporting the translation of its publications on gender and women workers' issues into national languages;
- supporting capacity building to promote gender equality in governments, employers' and workers' organizations at both national and local levels; and
- distributing the Common Understanding of this Regional Consultation to all relevant government ministries in member States, through ministries of labour.
1COMMON UNDERSTANDING on questions regarding women and the world of work adopted by the Asian Regional Consultation on the Beijing Platform for Action: Gender and Women's Issues in the World of Work: Progress and Challenges for the Future, 6-8 October 1999, Manila, Philippines.
For further information, please contact the South-East Asia and the Pacific Multidisciplinary Advisory Team (SEAPAT) at
Tel: + 63.2.815.2354 or + 63.2.819.3614 and Fax: + 63.2.812.6143
Copyright ©1998 International Labour Organization
Created by SF. Approved by WRB. Last updated on 25 February 2000.