Wednesday, 11 September 2013

ILO official shares thoughts on gender equality in the region

AN International Labour Organisation (ILO) official is contending that without good gender-sensitive laws and good gender-sensitive interpretations of those laws by the court system, there can be no real progress in terms of equality between women and men.

To that end, Jane Hodges, Director Gender Equality and Diversity Branch of the ILO, is suggesting that the role of the judiciary in the fight for gender equality can never be overstated. Her comments came as she spoke of the purpose of the five-day workshop currently underway in Barbados, which has brought together judges, senior officers of the Court and high-level officials dealing with employment and labour from across the region.

Through the workshop, the participants will get a greater appreciation for the ILO standard-setting function and supervisory machinery as it relates to national law on gender equality; be able to build on their knowledge of International Labour Standards related to gender equality; and strengthen judicial capacity to apply International Labour Law in resolving national gender inequality labour disputes.

Hodges explained that they will spend quite some time on the conventions which directly address gender equality including Convention 100 which came into force in 1953 and addresses the issue of equal pay, for equal value; and Convention 111, which addresses discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. She said that as of last week, Convention 100 was ratified by 170 countries and Convention 111 was ratified by 172 countries. She stated that the ILO is hoping for full ratification of both conventions.

“There are a couple of lagging governments, but it is definitely an issue that is highly likely to reach that universal ratification soon,” the director said.

Hodges also spoke of Conventions 156 and 183, which look at workers with family responsibilities and maternity protection respectively, noting that few countries in the Caribbean region have ratified the two conventions. With that in mind, she noted that only eight countries across the world have ratified the convention which seeks to offer protection to domestic workers.

Meanwhile, Dr. Giovanni di Cola, Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Decent Work Team and Office of the Caribbean said the ILO, together with other agencies of the United Nations system are working on issues of social protection, and among those issues is the protection for domestic workers. He said that they are making a concerted effort to encourage countries to ratify ILO Convention 189, which aims to ensure that persons employed in that field also have access to decent working conditions. (JRT)

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