International Women’s Day

Statement by ILO Director-General: Getting to Equal by 2030, The Future is Now

“Let’s work together to achieve genuine gender equality and women’s empowerment in the world of work. Decent work for women brings decent lives for all,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Statement | 08 March 2016
Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we affirm that when it comes to Getting to Equal by 2030, The Future is Now.

Last year the United Nations adopted a transformative agenda – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. If the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved permitting all to move forward together with fairness and justice, there must be readiness to act now on the commitments of the SDGs. What ultimately matters are the results and changes for the better in the lives of girls and boys, women and men everywhere.

They all stand to gain from gender equality as do families, enterprises and societies. The world of work is a privileged entry point to set in motion the transformations called for in the 2030 Agenda. Yet continuing and unacceptable gender gaps in the world of work persist and are captured with alarming clarity by a new ILO report, “Women at Work: Trends 2016”.

The report shows the enormous challenges women continue to face in finding and keeping decent jobs. It demonstrates the persistently unequal earning power of women and men. It lays out the imbalance between paid and unpaid work and between hours worked by each, and the difficulty women have in gaining access to adequate maternity protection and pensions.

It is also of serious concern that despite significant progress made by women over the past two decades in education, this has not translated into comparable improvements in their position at work.

These stubborn challenges raise important questions. How do we eliminate the gender pay gap in less than the 70 years it is estimated it will take at current rates of progress. Two generations is too long to wait to achieve pay equity.

Why is it taking so long to end discrimination and violence against women and girls; how do we get recognition of the value of unpaid care and domestic and other work and the consequences for women’s lack of access to quality work with social protection. What measures can ensure the full and effective participation of women at all levels of economic and public life?

As the ILO approaches its 100th anniversary in 2019, our Women at Work Centenary Initiative renews the Organization’s commitment to promote gender equality and to identify measures that will give new impetus to work in this domain, building on what has already worked. A global survey and research on the situation of women in the world of work will clearly identify aspirations and obstacles to guide innovative action.

Our actions must be immediate, effective and far-reaching. There is no time to waste. The 2030 Agenda is an opportunity to pool our efforts and develop coherent, mutually supporting policies for gender equality.

Let’s work together to achieve genuine gender equality and women’s empowerment in the world of work. Let us engage men and boys for women’s empowerment. Decent work for women brings decent lives for all.