10.07.2006

Tackling the "decent work deficit"

Government leaders, heads of international agencies and senior experts in
economic and employment issues meet on 3-5 July to highlight proposals for
cutting poverty and providing new hope to the world's working poor. The meeting
of the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will focus on promoting decent
work as the sustainable route out of poverty.

What is decent work?

The goal of the International Labour Office (ILO) is to "promote opportunities
for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of
freedom, equity, security and human dignity." Decent work is a strategic goal
for development that acknowledges the central role of work in people's lives.
This includes work that is productive and delivers a fair income; provides
security in the workplace and social protection for families; and offers better
prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom to express
concerns, opportunities to organize and participate in decision-making, and
equal opportunity and treatment for all women and men.

According to the ILO, decent work is central to efforts to reduce poverty, and
is a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.

The Decent Work Agenda is a practical agenda rooted in the real world and
founded on the understanding that work is a source of personal dignity, family
stability, peace in the community, democracies that deliver for people, and
economic growth that expands opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise
development. It is an integrated approach that makes connections among
different policy areas.

Decent work "deficits"

Decent Work deficits take the form of unemployment and underemployment, poor
quality and unproductive jobs, unsafe work and insecure income, rights that are
denied and gender inequality. Many migrant workers are particularly vulnerable
to exploitation, lack representation and voice, and inadequate protection from
income loss during sickness, disability and old age.

Some indicators of decent work deficits include:

  • Half of the world's workers are unable to lift themselves and their families
    above the US$2 per day per person poverty line.
  • Much of the world has a significant "gender gap" in both quantity and quality
    of employment.
  • Women are more likely than men to work in the informal economy, with little
    or no social protection and a high degree of insecurity.
  • There are over 88 million unemployed youth (aged 15 to 24) around the world,
    comprising nearly half of the world's total unemployment, though this age group
    makes up only 25 per cent of the working age population.
  • Labour migration is on the rise. There are more than 86 million migrant
    workers in the world, 34 million of them in developing regions.
  • Global economic growth is increasingly failing to translate into new and
    better jobs that would lead to a reduction in poverty.

More information


AplusA-online.de - Source: International Labour Office (ILO)