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Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality

Since 1919, the ILO has sought to guarantee labour rights and improve working conditions for women and men. 50 years ago, in 1958, the International Labour Organization adopted the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (C.111), still the most comprehensive and dedicated international instrument on non-discrimination and gender equality in the world of work.
> Gender equality at the heart of decent work: Campaign 2008-2009

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Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Discrimination occurs when a distinction is made on the basis of certain grounds such as race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin which has a negative effect on the enjoyment of equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation. Convention 111 addresses all forms of direct or indirect discrimination in the world of work, whether in law or in practice. Although direct sex discrimination has declined over the years, the more subtle and often hidden indirect discrimination persists in many forms. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
More women today are in the formal economy than ever before. There are high numbers of women in public services and increasing numbers of equal opportunities policies globally. However, despite the narrowing of gender gaps in educational attainments and work experience, women continue to earn less than men on average, are overrepresented in informal and atypical jobs, face greater barriers than men in obtaining and maintaining high-status jobs and bear the unequal burden of family responsibilities. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Training and education are extremely important in determining the actual opportunities for gaining access to employment and occupation. Underinvestment in the education and training of girls and women, from generation to generation, often starts at the earliest stages of their lives and continues throughout their life-cycles, hampering their ability to obtain decent and productive work. Policies aimed at addressing gender segregation in education, training and employment require a comprehensive set of measures. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Labour markets are still segregated to a large degree. Occupational segregation is an expression of inequality, as it implies differentials in power, skills, income and opportunities. Although there are more women today in occupations that were traditionally regarded as the concern of men, particularly in the scientific and technical fields, women's participation is still far from equal to that of men in these areas. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Conflict between work and family responsibilities and its implications for equality in the labour market have become increasingly prominent. Factors such as long working hours have uneven effects on women, as they are most likely to be the main care providers for their families. Because of family responsibilities, many women┐s options are reduced regarding the choice to work or the occupations selected. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Pay differentials remain one of the most persistent forms of inequality between women and men. They vary from country to country and within countries, between the public and private sectors as well as between different sectors of the economy. But on the whole, women continue to work for lower wages than men. ILO Convention No. 100, adopted in 1951, is a specific instrument concerning equal remuneration for work of equal value. Policies to eliminate discrimination in remuneration not only need to deal with labour market discrimination but also with perceptions of the role of women, and the difficulty in balancing work and family responsibilities. Ensuring equal pay for work of equal value is a key element in eliminating sex-based discrimination and promoting gender equality. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Indigenous women have less access to education at all levels, receive less pay, experience worse conditions of work and are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse, harassment and trafficking as they seek employment far away from their communities. Indigenous women may also be limited by discriminatory cultural practices that inhibit the education of the girl-child or prevent women from inheriting land. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Migrant workers are often subjected to discrimination because of religion, colour or race and treated unfavourably because of their migrant status. Almost half of the world's migrant workers are women who leave their homes to work in other countries, often for low and unskilled jobs. Many of them are not in a position to assert their rights and benefit from equal protection under labour legislation. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Women with disabilities are more likely to be poor, excluded from education, to be unemployed, or lack access to health and other public services. Disabled women are often overlooked in skills training and economic empowerment initiatives such as access to micro-credit, even more so than non-disabled women. There are also significant wage gaps between men and women with disabilities. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Forms of discrimination that affect women throughout their lives may be compounded as they get older by age-based discrimination. As women have continued to take on the role of primary care-giver, this may have led to patchy employment records, or part-time jobs, which may have restricted their access to adequate social coverage. Informal economy workers also generally do not benefit from equality-enhancing policies, which are usually designed for formal workplaces and employees. Discrimination then pushes women into the lower echelons of the informal economy. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
Governments have a major responsibility in ensuring equality between men and women through the adoption of anti-discrimination and equality legislation. Considerable progress has been made in this regard as more and more societies are realizing that workplaces free from discrimination are in the interest of individuals, communities and nations. Recent positive developments include the adoption of comprehensive gender equality legislation and sexual harassment legislation. Problems persists however, as some categories of workers remain excluded from national legislation, or there is no prohibition of sex-based discrimination in all aspects of employment. Another challenge is the enforcement of national equality and non-discrimination laws. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
Remove the obstacles ! On the right track to equality
The active collaboration of workers' and employers' organizations is essential to develop and monitor the observance of non-discrimination and equal opportunities measures and policies and their application at sectoral or enterprise level. In recent years, concerns such as sexual harassment, reconciling work and family responsibilities and equal access and opportunities for career development have received much attention by workers' and employers' organizations. Employers' organizations recognize that in general, women face unique challenges and obstacles throughout the various stages of employment, and that enterprises have a role to play in the promotion of gender equality. Discrimination-free workplaces are in the best "business" interest of enterprises and institutions. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.

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Last update: Thursday - 1 June 2023