HLPF2021: Unions present demands for a gender-responsive recovery and resilience

Speaking on behalf of the global labour movement, Paola Simonetti, ITUC Deputy Director for Economic and Social Policies, participated in the HLPF side-event of UN Women on Tuesday 6 July. The session was dedicated to solutions to address the interlocking crises of care, jobs and the environment to achieve the promise of the SDGs.

The intervention started with an analysis of the impact of the crisis on working women. Simonetti raised some warning flags regarding the insufficient scope of the responses that governments have put in place thus far and how this situation is potentially contributing to worsening women’s vulnerable position in terms of accessing decent work for the years to come.

Thereafter, Paola Simonetti focused on trade unions’ demands for a gender-responsive recovery and resilience. She highlighted four major areas of action:

  1. Investments in sustainable infrastructure and care economy. These should be two-folded. They should lead to creating climate-friendly jobs with Just Transition measures, and increase public investments in care in a manner that allows for the expansion of care infrastructures and services, and ensure a well-regulated care sector.
  2. Scaling up universal social protection. Women are particularly disadvantaged in social protection systems, experiencing lower coverage rates and substantially lower benefit levels. The most effective way to significantly expand access to social protection is to ensure adequate, public non-contributory social protection schemes. Governments should strive to expand social protection systems and floors and to help the poorest countries on the way, the world must establish a Global Fund for Social Protection.
  3. Promoting equal pay for work of equal value and ensuring that labour markets foster women’s access to higher-paying jobs are key preconditions to gender equality. This is what SDG 8 and SDG 5 are telling us. There are tools at hand to address the gender pay gap efficiently, such as statutory minimum wages, formalisation of the informal economy, and collective bargaining and agreements, pay transparency and measures that promote greater representation of women in senior and highly paid positions.
  4. Preventing and tackling violence and harassment. In the wake of the pandemic, the number of cases of domestic violence and gender-based harassment and violence at work has surged. In the absence of proper social protection, many victims have no alternative than to continue going to their work. Unions are pressing governments to ratify the ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 as the most effective tool to tackle this situation.

Watch Paola Simonetti’s intervention.