A workshop on gender equality in the workplace was held in Lamana Hotel in Port Moresby from 10 to 13 August 2009. The workshop was opened by Honorable Power Parkop, Member of the Parliament and Governor of the National Capital District. Participants include 6 from Vanuatu and 12 from PNG mainly from government organizations (particularly the Department of Labour, Department of Women and Department of Pubic Service), employers’ and workers’ organizations, National Council of Women and other NGOs. Ms Johanne Lortie of the ILO International Training Center in Turin, Italy is facilitating the workshop.
The workshop has three-pronged objectives, namely: (1) understanding gender barriers to employment, with emphasis on youth employment; (2) identifying key policy content for an “Equal Opportunity Policy in the Workplace” (public and private sectors); (3) understanding the decent work agenda and how to contribute to this ILO goal. At the end of the workshop, the participants are expected to draft a model policy on gender equality in the workplace that is hoped to be refined and ultimately implemented by participating public and private organizations in Vanuatu and in Papua New Guinea. Given positive results of the pilot implementation of the model policy in these two countries will likely encourage other Pacific countries to replicate and adopt such pioneering gender equality policy in the workplace.
The ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries organized the workshop in the framework of the NICP Youth Employment Programme (YEP): RAS/06/53/NET: Sub-regional Programme on Education, Employability and Decent Work for Youth in the Pacific, and in collaboration with the ILO Gender Equality Bureau in Geneva and the ILO International Training Center in Turin, Italy. ILO constituents – governments, and workers’ and employers’ organizations supported the workshop, and special thanks to the PNG Department of Labour for assisting in organizing this workshop in PNG.
This workshop is an integral part of the ILO/YEP gender mainstreaming strategy to break gender barriers in securing decent and productive work for young men and women in the Pacific. This gender mainstreaming strategy supports the views of ILO on gender equality as integral to its vision of Decent Work for all women and men. This strategy likewise supports the efforts of ILO, together with its constituents, in promoting gender mainstreaming in technical cooperation projects such as the ILO Pacific Youth Employment Programme as a strategy for advancing gender equality in the world of work, especially for young workers.
Women, particularly young women, face greater difficulty in securing productive and decent employment (in both formal and informal sectors) as compared to young men. Although some are cultural, the reasons for the disadvantaged position of young women in seeking productive employment and securing decent work are similar to those affecting young women in other parts of the world, which include: lower level of education as compared to young men as families give preference to men in pursuing higher education; indirect discrimination due to stereotyping of girls or young women for domestic and reproductive roles and subservient jobs; limited access to information channels and job search mechanisms than young men; sex-based discriminatory practices that influence their recruitment; and preference of employers for young men rather than young women, among other causes.
It is also observed that despite widespread national political commitment to combat discrimination and promote equality in the workplace - with most ILO Pacific member States having ratified the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), and the CEDAW - the concepts of discrimination and gender equality, especially in the world of work, is not well understood nor appreciated. Often, gender equality is reduced to merely disaggregating data by sex and not delving deeper into the factors affecting the differentiated roles of women and men, especially in the socio-economic front. This misconception reinforces stereotyping and further aggravates other forms of discriminatory practices against women, especially young women, in the world of work.
Hence, this ILO gender mainstreaming strategy aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace is in support of the fundamental requirement for equality at work which is the prohibition and prevention of direct and indirect discrimination. Similarly it recognizes that equality in rights, opportunity and treatment at work is about ensuring that all persons are treated with dignity and allowed to develop to their potential capacity. Having gender equality in the workplace is beneficial to both employers and workers as it helps cultivate harmonious relationships between workers and employers and also among workers. It also can lead to increased productivity and incomes to both employers and workers.
For more information please contact:
Ms Ofelia C. Eugenio
Chief Technical Adviser of ILO/YEP
Tel: +679 3313866
Mr Taua Apuia
(ILO/YEP National Officer in PNG
Tel: +675 6985147
Mr Shaun Kennedy
ILO/YEP National Officer in Vanuatu
Tel: +678 5562475