World Day of Social Justice

2022 World Day of Social Justice Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment

The commemorative event for the 2022 World Day of Social Justice was convened by the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) with the theme, “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment.”

News | 21 February 2022

The commemorative event for the 2022 World Day of Social Justice was convened by the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) with the theme, “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment.” The event was moderated by Special Representative to the UN and Director of the ILO Office of New York, Ms. Beate Andrees, and included speakers from governments, social partners and members of the UN system.
More than 60 per cent of the world’s employed population, that is 2 billion women, men and youth, earn their livelihoods in the informal economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the vulnerability of workers in the informal economy. Informal workers, as they often lack any form of social protection or employment related benefits, are twice as likely to be poor compared to formal workers. Most people enter the informal economy not by choice, but due to lack of opportunities in the formal economy. Without concerted action to encourage a transition to formal employment, social justice will not be fulfilled.

Promoting the transition to formality is a necessary condition to reduce poverty and inequalities, advance decent work, increase productivity and sustainability of enterprises and expand government’s scope of action, notably in times of crisis. In accordance with the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204), and acknowledging that the pathways to transition to formality depend on national circumstances, comprehensive integrated strategies that tackle multiple drivers of informality work best.

Effective gender-responsive formalization strategies combine interventions to increase the ability of the formal economy to provide for decent work opportunities, to absorb workers and economic units currently in the informal economy, and to strengthen the ability of people and enterprises to enter the formal economy. The identification of the right incentives and the elimination of obstacles to formality are essential. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, preventing the informalization of formal jobs is also of particular importance.

The event started with an opening statement from H.E. Mrs. Aida Kaymalieva, Permanent Representative to Kyrgyzstan noting that social justice can be achieved through the creation of decent work opportunities. In Kyrgyzstan, the informal labour economy is approximately 40% of its overall economy and much of the labour market is dominated by men. Thus, it is imperative to increase financing, education, and retraining to include women and youth in the formal labour market. H.E. Mr. Collen Vixen Kelaplie, President of the Economic and Social Council echoed the importance of achieving social justice, including addressing the root causes of informality. Existing tools within the UN system as well as increasing education, greater fiscal stimulus packages, and the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection can serve to aid in the transition from informality to formality. ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, stated the international community has a rare chance that must not be missed to shape a recovery from COVID-19 that delivers social justice for people and protects the planet we all depend on.
 
A panel discussion followed the opening statements and included Mr. Mansour Ndiaye, Head of Inclusive Growth, UNDP, Mr. Philippe Marcadent, Chief of Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions, ILO, Ms. Maria Piedad Bayter Horta, Deputy Director of Productive Development, Directorate of Innovation and Business Development, Department of National Planning, Colombia, Ms. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and Mr. Roberto Suárez Santos, Secretary-General, International Organisation of Employers (IOE) as speakers.

An interactive discussion was held after the panel discussion where speakers reiterated the call for increased social protection for informal workers and the role economic inclusion has in achieving social justice. Speakers included H.E. Mr. Björn Olof Skoog, Head of Delegation, European Union, H.E. Mrs. Agnes Chimbiri Molande, Permanent Representative of Malawi to the United Nations, and Mr Nnamdi Nze, Minister, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations. The discussion was closed by Anita Thomas, Chair, NGO Committee on Financing for Development, A Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGO. The 2030 Agenda and the Secretary-General’s report on Our Common Agenda, acknowledges the transition from informal to formal employment as a priority. It calls for road maps to be established to integrate informal workers and enterprises into formal economies in order to benefit from women’s full participation in the workforce, and to reduce inequalities more broadly.

Under a new partnership agreement between the ILO and UNDP, the two organisations have agreed to undertake joint programming to generate pathways to formality, which will also support the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for a Just Transition.