Speakers Highlight National Strategies Tackling Effects of Pandemic, Conflicts, Inequalities, as Social Development Commissions Concludes General Discussion
Detailing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts on the employment market, delegates outlined strategies to overcome inequalities within and between countries and to provide decent work opportunities for all.
The representative of Viet Nam stressed that for decent work to be attainable and truly meaningful, the international community must end hunger and poverty in all forms, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. He called for a significant increase in funding to support developing countries.
Echoing his concerns, Nepal’s delegate said job loss due to the pandemic in low-income countries exacerbated the situation of people who were deprived in the fields of education, health and social protection. Robust investment in universal access to education, universal health coverage, equal opportunities and social protection is needed. Drawing attention to 3 million Nepali nationals working abroad, he also stressed the need to ensure decent work for migrant workers.
Venezuela’s delegate voiced his opposition to unilateral coercive measures against countries as they undermine the possibility of advancing towards a coherent social agenda that would protect the most vulnerable. Similarly, “criminal embargoes” contradict the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, he asserted, highlighting his Government’s progress in training, education, health and social sectors — despite foreign aggression and attempts to destabilize the country.
Numerous delegates emphasized that hardest hit by the interlocking crises were people already facing discrimination and marginalization in employment and workers in informal and insecure sectors, including women, young people, older persons, persons with disabilities and migrants.
Kyrgyzstan’s delegate, citing the promotion of social justice as essential for poverty reduction and the provision of decent work for all, spotlighted his Government’s extensive legal base which provides guarantees for equal working conditions and fair wages. He also pointed to several programmes to support vulnerable families, protect children and digitalize the labour market.
Malaysia’s representative noted his Government’s progressive policy for social development that strives to reduce inequalities and enhance the delivery of services to vulnerable groups, including women and older persons. Undertaking steps to strengthen its social safety net, Malaysia introduced a confinement care programme for low-income households and the formation of two sheltered workshops for disabled persons who are not ready to participate in the formal labour market, he reported.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago highlighted the issue of gender equality and the empowerment of women, drawing attention to the Road to Recovery plan, which facilitates a gender-inclusive recovery path. Noting that young people have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, he also highlighted his country’s National Youth Policy 2020-2025, which focuses on their empowerment.
South Africa’s delegate, whose country is among those with the highest levels of inequality in the world, detailed his Government’s programmes diversifying wealth ownership and promoting entrepreneurship among those previously marginalized, including the policy of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, which enables broader participation in the economy by black people.
Switzerland’s delegate emphasized that it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that a loss of income in the event of unemployment, divorce, long-term illness or retirement does not push families into poverty. Because women are particularly vulnerable, he noted his country’s Equality 2030 Strategy, which aims to promote gender equality in professional and public life.
In other business, Wenyan Jang, Division for Social Inclusive Social Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, provided an update to the Commission for Social Development on the proposed programme plan of the Division for Inclusive Social Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs for the year 2024.
Isabell Kempf, Director of the Bonn Office of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, speaking via teleconference, introduced the report of the Board on the work of the Institute during 2021 and 2022, as contained in document E/CN.5/2023/8.
The Commission then nominated the Board’s current members Hanif Hassan Ali al Qassim (United Arab Emirates), Ha-Joon Chang (Republic of Korea) and Imraan Valodia (South Africa) — whose terms will expire on 30 June 2023 — for an additional two-year term beginning on the date of confirmation by the Economic and Social Council and expiring on 30 June 2025.
The Commission also nominated Naila Kabeer (India) — a new member to replace Shalini Randeria (India) who stood down from her position in September 2021 — to serve on the Board for a four-year term beginning after confirmation by the Economic and Social Council on a date no sooner than on 1 July 2023 and expiring on 30 June 2027.
Also speaking were representatives of Finland, Zimbabwe, Israel, Mexico, Kuwait, Algeria, Yemen, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Canada, Georgia, Cyprus, Hungary, Monaco, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Malawi, Poland, Indonesia, El Salvador, Romania, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Uruguay, Haiti, United States, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bolivia and Kazakhstan. The Permanent Observer for the Holy See and a youth delegate from Hungary also spoke.
Representative from United Nations agencies and non-governmental organization also spoke, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; International Organization for Migration; Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; Appui Solidaire/ONG Asrad; Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University; C-Fam; Congregation Good Shepherd; EUROGEO; FEMM Foundation; Grace Leadership Foundation Inc/"Association Grace Mali"; Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Loreto Generalate; International Association of Independent Journalists Inc.; International Federation for Family Development; International Federation on Ageing; International Movement ATD Fourth World; Irene Menakaya School Onitsha; Life Project 4 Youth; Make Mothers Mother; Red Dot Foundation; Miss CARICOM International Foundation CIP Inc.; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Soroptimist International; The Blue Tree Foundation; UNANIMA International; World Organization for Early Childhood Education; World Union of Small and Medium Enterprises; World Youth Alliance; and the Congregation of the Mission.
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 15 February, to continue its work.
OR SHAKED (Israel) said that full and productive employment and decent work can increase income, help people escape poverty and empower persons in marginalized situations. In response to the impact of COVID-19 on the employment market, his country is tackling inequality and lack of diversity in employment. Highlighting the work of the Israeli Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, he said its activities include programmes for mainstreaming equality in the private and business sectors, including for women and Arab persons. Turning to the need for life-long learning and skill training, he said that adjustments were made in professional training by putting an emphasis on the need for computerized training, especially in the high-tech sector. Noting that online trade and e‑commerce have changed the landscape of business, he offered as an example the growth in app-based shipping services of food and other products. The rise of this sector led to the need to formalize the rights of the workers in this field, as well as for those in other digital platform economy industries. Further, Israel participates in the Equal Pay International Coalition, whose goal is to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere, he added.
STEFAN CUENI (Switzerland), in a pre-recorded message, detailed the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing inequalities within and between countries and the terrible consequences of war, not just locally, but also globally. In many countries — especially in Africa and the Middle East — the lack of grain and fertilizer also threatens food security. The pandemic and the growing number of violent conflicts are impeding the international community from tackling major global challenges, including the universal realization of human rights, gender equality and the fight against climate change, among others. On a national platform, he stressed that the Government must ensure that parts of the population do not fall into poverty. A household should be able to afford housing, energy, schooling and health insurance. A loss of income in the event of unemployment, divorce, long-term illness or retirement, for example, should not push families into poverty. Women are particularly vulnerable, he cautioned, pointing to the Equality 2030 Strategy, which aims to promote gender equality in professional and public life. It is regrettable that a large proportion of the world's population continues to be excluded from social protection, he asserted, highlighting the need to create the means to finance social protection.
Ms. SANTA ANA VARA (Mexico), underscoring the need to consolidate comprehensive measures to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, pointed out that her country’s Constitution includes a true declaration of the principles of individual and collective work while providing a high level of protection. She underlined the importance of providing decent work opportunities to overcome inequalities, including facilitating the transition from school to work for young people and encouraging education and training throughout life. The Government has also implemented a minimum wage policy which has enabled 5.8 million workers to move out of poverty and reduced the gender pay gap. Among other legislative initiatives, Mexico has ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 on violence and harassment to ensure more inclusive labour markets free of gender-based violence and bullying, as well as the 2014 Protocol to the ILO Forced Labour Convention to strengthen and update the country’s labour legislation. She appealed to Member States to remember that true social development can only be achieved through the promotion of and respect for human rights.
TAREQ M A M ALBANAI (Kuwait), recalling the many global, regional and national challenges impacting countries’ capacities to develop social policies to advance welfare and provide services, pointed out that Kuwait’s Constitution nonetheless has several articles which guarantee protections, including the provision of assistance to those unable to work, as well as the provision of universal health care for those who have retired. The Constitution underscores the role of the family and its protection in social development as the main pillar of society, as the family nurtures a love of religion and the nation. On persons with disabilities, he added that Kuwait has advanced policies to support their rights and intends to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Further, his country pays special attention to youth, as borne out by the establishment of a specific ministry to provide care for this segment of society. On issues concerning women, he pointed to the formation last year of a ministry to protect women’s rights and to protect children against violence and abuse. Finally, turning to the elderly, he outlined his country’s policies which provided for the group’s support and care, including household care.
ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela), aligning himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, reiterated the importance of international solidarity in light of the recent earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Highlighting the humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of life, poverty, equity, dignity of work and distribution of wealth, he urgently called on States to address the issue in order to truly advance towards the Sustainable Development Goals. To this end, he underscored the importance of complex transformations, such as an increase in new technology and artificial intelligence. Voicing concern over the loss of employment and the increase in social inequity, as well as its most alarming consequences — including modern slavery — he said poverty and exclusion must be addressed in order to overcome inequalities. Moreover, he stressed that unilateral coercive measures against countries undermine the possibility of advancing towards a coherent social agenda that would protect the most vulnerable. He also opposed criminal embargoes as they contradict the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Highlighting his Government’s progress in training, education, health and social sectors — despite foreign aggression and attempts to destabilize the country — he described social development policies as a pivot of progress.
MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria), pointing out that development’s benefits can only be felt if all countries are benefiting, stressed the need to support the Commission’s work and called for projects to ensure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is back on track. With inequalities widening between countries, States must work on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Social development enables Algeria to guarantee that sustainable development meets society’s needs, he said, spotlighting its social policy which is based on social justice and national solidarity, its energy transition programme and its knowledge-based economic model, among other initiatives. These projects have notably allowed his country to overcome the effects of the pandemic and achieve 5 per cent growth through providing job opportunities for all and reducing unemployment. His Government has also introduced a loan to support job-seekers and the unemployed by improving their purchasing power and has also empowered women by improving their labour market participation. Since recovery from the pandemic will require concerted efforts, funding, technology transfers and capacity-building, he called on all to shoulder their responsibilities and ensure that no one is left behind.
AZRIL BIN ABD AZIZ (Malaysia) pointed out that the pandemic resulted in the rollback of progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, including through loss of employment, reduction of income, and increase in inequalities in many parts of the world. Malaysia has adopted a progressive policy for social development, which is guided by six core values, including trust and compassion. This policy is overseen by the country’s National Social Protection Council, with a view to reducing inequalities and enhancing the delivery of services to vulnerable groups, including women and older persons. He went on to outline policies to strengthen employment, including a scheme to reduce unemployment, introduced in February 2022, which successfully reduced the unemployment rate from 4.1 per cent to 3.6 per cent. Further, new legislation has been framed to strengthen the protection of workers’ rights, he said, pointing to improvements in maternity privileges, and the introduction of paid paternity leave. Malaysia has also undertaken other steps to strengthen its social safety net, including through the introduction of a confinement care programme for low-income households and the formation of two sheltered workshops for disabled persons who are not yet ready to participate in the formal labour market, he reported.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the job loss due to the pandemic in low-income countries exacerbated the situation of people who were deprived in the fields of education, health and social protection, which are closely interwoven. As a result, the poorest suffered the most, he stressed, noting that the pandemic has also accelerated the inequalities in global labour markets. Hardest hit were people already facing discrimination and marginalization in employment and workers in informal and insecure sectors, including women, young people, older persons, persons with disabilities and minorities. In this context, he underscored the need to create productive employment and decent work for all to reduce inequality. Robust investment in promoting capabilities through universal access to quality education, universal health coverage, equal opportunities and social protection are crucial. Nepal’s policies guarantee social security ensuring the basic rights of labours, as well as a minimum wage for workers that has been specified by the Government. With over 3 million Nepali nationals working abroad, effective implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration remains Nepal’s priority, he said, highlighting the need to ensure decent work for migrant workers.
SARAH AHMED AHMED AL-MASHEHARI (Yemen) highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, teaching and ensuring a decent life on those suffering from conflict such as her country. Despite this, her Government is continuing to restore State institutions and is undertaking economic reform measures to create conducive environments for the private sector, ensure complete and sustainable economic development and provide employment opportunities, including for youth and women in rural areas. Through partnering with several States to achieve a decent life for all in the short and long term, Yemen has been able to establish peace, she said spotlighting those who have been able to resume generating income through farming and fishing. It has also worked on investing in rural areas and developing rehabilitation programmes and supply-chain projects for the long term. She then emphasized the importance of employment and requested Yemen’s humanitarian partners to provide further assistance in enabling her Government to overcome its current challenges and contribute to sustainable development.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta), associating herself with the European Union, called for innovative policy frameworks that address the obstacles which limit the participation of young people and older workers. Further, she underscored the need to prioritize the creation of new job opportunities that meet young people’s needs, citing the Secretary-General’s report noting that an estimated 75 per cent of young people around the world work are in the informal sector. “Failing to realize the full potential of our youth will have a negative multiplier effect on family well-being, the health of national economies and societies at large,” she stressed. Turning to older workers, given the context of an ageing population, she underscored the need for social protection and labour policies to value older people’s skills and knowledge, combat age discrimination and foster intergenerational transfer of knowledge, including through accessible vocational opportunities. Further, the promotion of equal rights, equal treatment and equal opportunities for women must remain at the heart of policies, including through the prioritization of gender-responsive social protection policies which recognize the disproportionate care burdens that women assume, she said.
ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia) underscored the need for countries to pool their efforts with respect to pandemic recovery that promotes social development. Since the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia has adopted a number of measures to combat the virus, as well as several economic stimulus measures to tackle its economic outcomes. These included the introduction of a 60 per cent guarantee for the payment of employees’ wages, and the delay by three months of tax payment deadlines for entrepreneurs and the self-employed. Noting that the care for those of all social backgrounds without discrimination is “the real gauge of civilization”, he said that Saudi Arabia therefore has policies in place to protect the rights of the elderly in line with Islamic values. Further, Saudi Arabia has in place policies promoting the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, and has ratified relevant conventions and protocols in this regard, he added.
Ms. NANDI (Iran), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends of the Family, underlined the importance of policies for social development, including those to minimize unemployment. Voicing concern over detrimental effects resulting from conflicts — such as rising unemployment rates — she said conflict-affected areas are experiencing a shortage of well-paid jobs. Moreover, a high number of refugees have been displaced due to hostilities. Pointing to social and financial crisis caused by foreign interventions in the region, she stressed that unilateral coercive measures — including unjust unilateral sanctions — have negatively impacted developing countries and undermined productive and full employment. She recalled her Government’s strong opposition to such measures against developing countries, adding that they are threating the livelihood and dignity of citizens, including women and persons with disabilities. More so, improved infrastructure and knowledge transfer in relevant fields are an essential priority to national development. Recent health pandemic challenges have demonstrated that health is a precondition of sustainable development and a foundation of society, she said, noting that Iran considers health care as top priority at national, regional and international level.
MEDER UTEBAEV (Kyrgyzstan) said it is time to give additional impetus to creating a new era of social protection systems that ensure minimum social guarantees, eradicate poverty and leave no one behind. Noting that his country has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals and social development principles into its national development strategy, he spotlighted Kyrgyzstan’s extensive legal base which provides State guarantees for equal working conditions and fair wages. Among other things, his country is implementing several programmes to support vulnerable families, protect children and digitalize the labour market. Since development is impossible without the development of human capital, investments in human capital are investments in a country’s development, economy and social justice. The promotion of social justice, which is essential for providing decent work for all, should be a central objective of national and international policies for development and poverty reduction, he continued, reminding all that his country initiated a General Assembly resolution in 2007 declaring 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice. He then invited all Member States to participate in this year’s commemorative event that Kyrgyzstan is organizing with ILO and other partners.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that too many events were impeding the efforts of developing countries from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, there has been an insufficient increase in employment and in the provision of decent employment, putting social justice at risk and forcing workers to accept lower quality work. Underscoring Nicaragua’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, he said that it has implemented a raft of programmes and policies to promote such aims. Further, Nicaragua adheres to a social, economic and cultural development model, which ensures the provision of more opportunities for all and encourages sustainable development, including through promotion of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a development model that promotes multilateralism and international law, as well as the defence of its sovereignty.
NNAMDI OKECHUKWU NZE (Nigeria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, stressed the importance of decent work in escaping poverty. Nigeria has shown a high level of resilience, he recalled, noting that the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic taught the world a lesson to intensify efforts to mitigate the social effects of the pandemic. Voicing concern over its impact on young and older persons, he said that informal employment poses challenges to credit markets and services. Drawing attention to third world countries, he described productive employment and decent work for all as a means of reducing inequality in a sustained manner. Full employment for all represents a pathway to closing gaps between the rich and the poor, he said. In addition, employment provides a sense of dignity and purpose, promotes social inclusion and increases political participation of women. Highlighting the important contribution of entrepreneurship for sustainable development, he voiced support for families in vulnerable situations.
Ms. TUDOR-BEZIES (Canada), pointing out that too many people are facing barriers to labour market participation, shared that her Government has continued to promote diversity, equity and inclusion to overcome such discriminatory obstacles. Among other things, it implemented an employability strategy for persons with disabilities; a federal pay equity act to close gender wage gaps; and programmes to assist marginalized and equity-deserving groups in acquiring the skillsets they need especially for green and inclusive economies. As full employment and decent work for all cannot be achieved without women’s empowerment, her Government has also undertaken actions to address the barriers that women face including by implementing an early learning and childcare system. At the international level, Canada has committed to new funding to combat the problem of work renumeration in low- and middle-income countries. She then spotlighted her Government’s commitments to uphold human rights, its initiatives to combat forced labour and exploitation and its ratification of ILO Convention 190. The international community can work towards building a better future for all by ensuring employment especially for marginalized communities, empowering women in the labour market and upholding human rights in international labour standards, she stressed.
DAVID ABESADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, outlined legislative steps taken as a part of a large-scale labour law reform undertaken in 2020 to tackle employment and promote decent working conditions. Further, Georgia has implemented employment programmes aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, such as women, youth and persons with disabilities. These include wage subsidies, supportive employment and protected workplaces for persons with disabilities, as well as the introduction in March 2022 of a public works programme which supports the integration of targeted social assistance beneficiaries into the labour market. In September 2022, Georgia adopted a development strategy fully aligned with achieving the 2030 Agenda, and has taken steps to strengthen its social-care system, including through amendments to laws and the enhancement on an annual basis of a social assistance package for persons with disabilities. He expressed regret over the occupation of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, which impeded the delivery of services by Georgia, beyond the occupation line.
DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), aligning himself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends of Older Persons, said global employment is slated to increase in 2023 by another 3 million people to a total of 208 million people, marking a reversal of the decline in global unemployment between 2020 and 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in the labour market, he said, pointing to short- and long-term measures implemented by his Government, including the establishment of a national committee in April 2020 to restimulate the economy. Further measures taken by the Government in promoting full employment for all include programmes to address child labour and to promote the rights of domestic workers. Noting that young people have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, he highlighted his country’s National Youth Policy 2020-2025, which focuses on their empowerment. Moreover, the Government attaches high importance to the issue of gender equality and the empowerment of women, he said, drawing attention to the Road to Recovery plan, which facilitates a gender-inclusive recovery path.
ANDREAS HADJICHRYSANTHOU (Cyprus), associating himself with the European Union, agreed with other speakers that inequalities in the labour market have deepened and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda has been undermined. Decent work and respect for international labour standards should be considered a sine qua non for the efforts to achieve economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, he stressed, also drawing attention to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant international human rights law instruments, which recognize work as a human right. Cyprus is working to develop a comprehensive strategy that drives full, productive, adaptable employment and decent work for all, underpinned by social cohesion. Emphasis has been given to promoting equal opportunities for all, especially women and youth, and taking into consideration a green transition and the greening of the economy. Against that backdrop, he underscored the importance of restructuring and new investments, as well as upskilling and reskilling policies and strategies.
BÁLINT MOGYORÓSI (Hungary), aligning himself with the European Union, stressed that full and productive employment and decent work for all are key for a resilient and health economy and for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. By overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and boosting economies through the provision of opportunities, the international community cannot ignore the risk of climate change and migration, he said, calling for a comprehensive approach to create a stronger, greener and more sustainable outcome that respects existing international competencies. For young people and vulnerable youth in particular, they must be involved in the rebuilding process, he emphasized.
Ms. OFFENBAECHER, a youth delegate of Hungary, speaking in a pre-recorded video statement, spotlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and the rising costs of living on young people, especially in terms of their mental health. “The days we are living in are not the future we imagined for ourselves, but the one we feared, which has historical significance for all generations, present and future,” she stressed, adding that: “Our future is at stake right now; we fight every day for our future. Even though our fight might seem like a lost battle sometimes, fear not, we are also the generation of creativity and we do refuse to give up on our future.” Urging all to develop creative solutions, she underscored the essential role of youth in that regard and emphasized the need to ensure gender equality particularly in rural and underdeveloped areas. She also encouraged young women to seek opportunities and to study, stressing that life-long learning and quality education are lifelines to women and children in crises. She then called on all stakeholders to fully and meaningfully engage with youth to enable them to work towards a better future for all.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that COVID-19 recovery strategies must be integrated into the implementation of the Global Goals to avoid any reversal of progress in the post‑pandemic context. As this will require a significant increase in funding to support developing countries, the global financial system must be transformed to provide the necessary fiscal space to invest in people and build their resilience. For decent work to be attainable and truly meaningful, the international community must end hunger and poverty in all forms, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Further, at the national level, people must be at the centre of every development policy, have a decent job and enjoy basic social protection. To that end, more attention and resources need to be devoted to vulnerable groups while national labour legislation must be consistent with international labour standards to accelerate international integration and facilitate the transition to a green and circular economy. Workers should also be well-prepared to embrace every opportunity before them and should have adequate access to new education, training, skills development and self-learning, he added.
ALYSON CALEM-SANGIORGIO (Monaco), noting that decent work for all is a part of Sustainable Development Goals 5, 8 and 10, said that the pandemic shed light on loopholes in this realm, including through the exacerbation of inequalities in the job market. She pointed out that her country is the only one in the world that boasts more workers than inhabitants, with 39,000 inhabitants and 58,000 workers. Monaco has taken steps to enhance employment, including a colloquium held last year to focus on employment opportunities for the most vulnerable workers in green and blue economies. On strengthening youth employment, many tools have been adopted, including through the Government’s start-up incubator MonacoTech. Further, she said that her country takes a proactive approach to the protection of the rights of all workers by providing a raft of measures to ensure such support in both the public and private sector. These include a pension booster for those who have worked their entire life, as well as administrative measures and grants for information and communications technology and a one-stop shop for employment services.
DA HEE SONG (Republic of Korea) gave an overview of her country’s policies to combat inequalities by achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, her Government prepared a blueprint for coexistence and solidarity to overcome inequality in the labour market, she said, pointing to the fifth Basic Plan on Employment Policies, which contains a response to future job issues and active labour-market policies. The Plan includes a paradigm shift in employment policies that aims to create sustainable and quality jobs. The Government will manage the employment rate of the vulnerable, such as young people and women. It will also establish a proactive monitoring system utilizing the Pan-Government Job Task Force. Moreover, the Government will facilitate the evolution of the current wage system into the Coexistence Wage System which aims to develop the principle of equal pay for equal-value work based on performance. The Government is also working to increase access to quality jobs and economic activities for women and to reduce the childcare burden through tailored childcare support, creating an environment for equal sharing of childcare and housework.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, called for extraordinary and exceptional policies at the national and global level to address alienation and exclusion through burden-sharing and the enhancement of the social dimension of sustainable development. The international community must also bridge gaps in the market economy and support digitalization efforts including towards a digital, green economy. Spotlighting his Government’s national efforts, he noted that his country has focused on good governance to accelerate the implementation of the Global Goals, overcome climate-related and other global crises, and further enhance its resilience. Among other things, it has rolled out policies to improve the standard of living through basic services, care and education; tackled unemployment by providing decent work which addresses the needs of men, women and people with disabilities; supported start-ups and entrepreneurship; prioritized women and youth; engaged the private sector in a participatory approach; supported the social and solidarity economy; and has digitalized pubic services. Global cooperation must be enhanced to support developing and middle-income countries on improving their economies and strengthening their capacities to create jobs, provide decent work and adapt their social protection systems, he emphasized.
Ms. MNTIYAMBALA (Malawi), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said creating productive employment for the youth is a top priority of her Government. However, the pandemic has seriously disrupted job creation efforts. As part of the recovery process, the Government has launched programmes and initiatives, including developing COVID-19 regulations and COVID-19 workplace guidelines aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic, as well as a national job-creation strategy as a framework for coordinating job creation. Since the onset of the pandemic, the importance of social protection has become more visible both as a means of cushioning the population from falling deeper into poverty and as a means of recovery. Less than 15 per cent of Malawi’s population has access to electricity, she reported, noting that the country has experienced frequent blackouts forcing the majority of the population to rely on fuelwood for cooking and other household activities, thus leading to environmental degradation. As well, flooding, siltation and drought due to climate change and human activities are seriously affecting the hydroelectric power-generation capacity. This has led to declining productivity and consequently job losses since many processes in industries require electricity to operate. To address the energy crisis, it is necessary to invest in new power plants; explore alternative sources of energy, including solar power; and address environmental degradation, she asserted.
JOANNA SYLWIA SKOCZEK (Poland), associating herself with the European Union, said that the pandemic has posed challenges for economies seeking to maintain growth, as has the unprovoked Russian Federation aggression on Ukraine. Against this backdrop, Poland has taken mitigating steps, including by setting a maximum price for electricity, reducing the tax burden on energy fuel food and ensuring investment in transport infrastructure and towards digital and green transformation. The Government has also undertaken measures to protect jobs, setting aside 10 per cent of its national gross domestic product (GDP) for its entrepreneurs and citizens. As well, its Social Dialogue Council ensures conditions conducive for sustainable development and social cohesion. She said that because its unemployment rate is expected to hit 5.4 per cent, social security and unemployment benefits are being strengthened to mitigate this. Turning to the Russian Federation military aggression, she outlined steps taken to support Ukrainian refugees who have moved to Poland, including through issuing 1.4 million of them identity numbers that ensure they can access public system services. Further, Ukrainian refugees have been given access to employment integration, with as many as 650,000 of them taking up legal work, she said.
FEBRIAN IRAWATI MAMESAH (Indonesia) said her country’s economic growth and progress to achieving the sustainable development has been greatly impacted. Pursuit of full productive employment and decent work for all must be done in a comprehensive manner, she stressed, highlighting her Government’s commitment to creating a safe environment through a creative economy, empowering micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises and establishing national procurement programmes. Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all can only be done by ensuring high quality human resources. Life-long learning has always been Indonesia’s priority, she said, pointing to a programme aimed at ensuring capacity-building. Emphasizing that innovations such as digital transformation pose a risk of enlarging capacities among people, she underlined the importance of ensuring that the digital transformation continues to benefit all people equally. To that end, in 2021, the Government introduced a programme to build digital literacy, she recalled.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Friends of Older Persons, called on States that have not yet done so to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families since migrants are notably more exposed to exploitation, discrimination, violence and harassment. Turning to the needs of young people, she spotlighted her Government’s efforts in enabling their personal, social and cultural growth through strengthening their employability, creating dedicated youth spaces and contributing to their development and education. Further, in 2022, El Salvador enacted a special law for the protection of the rights of the elderly and also ratified five ILO conventions on social security, the environment, collective bargaining, maternity and the eradication of violence and harassment at work. Although middle-income countries represent 75 per cent of the world’s population, international cooperation towards this group — of which El Salvador is a part — continues to be limited. Development must go beyond the limited perspective of gross domestic product (GDP) and provide a more comprehensive, precise and equitable approach that allows for greater resources and financing, she stressed.
ANDREEA MOCANU (Romania), noting the many recent transformations in the labour market, pointed to the need to provide high flexibility there while ensuring security for workers and labour relations. Also highlighting the need for active employment policies, global strategies for life-long learning and modern social‑protection systems, she said the world is currently witnessing the emergence of new markets, industries, businesses and work practices which form the digital economy and the green economy. The development of rapid response anticipation systems, both for stable training pathways and for flexible forms of acquiring new skills, requires strong governance and the involvement of all responsible actors, she underscored. At the same time, the State has a crucial role in providing basic social protection for all workers, including those in atypical forms of employment. The main focus of social protection should be on the vulnerable people who have been most affected by the current pandemic, she stressed.
KOUADJO MICHEL KOUAKOU (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said the COVID-19 pandemic shook the labour market, exacerbated inequalities and weakened social-protection systems designed to shore up the resilience of healthcare systems and to guarantee income and employment. Against this backdrop, he underscored the need for urgent investments in social-protection systems, including in implementing a social-protection floor, citing figures from ILO that noted that the rate of such coverage in the African continent was 17 per cent, compared to the global average of 47 per cent. He went on to outline his country’s national strategy for more effective social protection, which is geared towards improving living conditions and increasing the resilience of vulnerable groups. Further, a project to promote decent work during 2023-2025 has been put in place, as has a national integration programme for disabled persons. Seven years ahead of the deadline to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, amid current crises, it is urgent to rebuild systems for social protection, he added.
RODRIGO ANDRÉS MÉNDEZ BOCANEGRA (Colombia) reiterated his Government’s commitment to promoting full and productive jobs, achieving stable societies and reducing social gaps. Stressing the importance of collective efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he underlined that multilateral systems help countries provide decent jobs and broaden social-protection coverage. Colombia is on track to becoming a society where productive employment, social rights of workers and dialogue is guaranteed to close the social gap and achieve sustainable development. The only way to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is to reduce social gaps by decent employment, he said, pointing to Colombia’s inclusion policies for the vulnerable populations in the labour market. Moreover, the Government introduced measures to address women’s unemployment and began designing a national care system that recognizes and redistributes the feminized care sector by way of public policy. He described the fight against poverty as a common objective of democratic societies.
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), aligning himself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said his country is among those with highest levels of inequality in the world. Extended periods of low economic growth have put a strain in the efforts to tackle historical structural inequalities, he said, noting that the phenomenon has its roots in South Africa’s past as prejudiced policies excluded a large portion of the population from economic activities and opportunities. His Government has a provision in the national budget for the social wage, he said, adding that it includes the combined public spending on health, education, housing, social protection, transport, employment and local amenities. South Africa is also investing in programmes targeting previously disadvantaged people, diversifying wealth ownership and promoting entrepreneurship among those previously marginalized, he said, highlighting the policy of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, which enables broader participation in the economy by black people and other previously disadvantaged groups.
CARLOS AMORIN (Uruguay) pointed out that his country’s smaller decrease in unemployment in comparison to others in the region was the result of his Government’s unemployment security system, a long-standing programme that made it possible to support formal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic affected everyone around the world differently, informal workers and women have notably been the most affected. In that regard, action is needed to address existing inequalities, investments in pandemic-affected sectors, such as education and social services, promotion of gender equality and the labour inclusion of informal workers. Uruguay extended health coverage, ensured flexibility in its unemployment security system, provided job opportunities for the unemployed and enacted a law to stimulate employment. In light of the pandemic’s effect on the labour market and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Uruguay has also enacted emergency measures to protect those who lost their livelihoods and facilitate the hiring of vulnerable populations. Jobs that are created must be of high quality with labour protections and fair wages, he underscored.
Ms. FABRE-PIERRE (Haiti), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that ensuring the creation of full, productive employment and decent work for all was the best way to address inequality, particularly in the context of post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery. Inequalities within and between countries had been exacerbated during the pandemic, she said, pointing out that low-income countries also experienced an increase in unemployment. Against this backdrop, she underscored the need for long-term investments and sufficient international cooperation to help low-income countries implement social policies, as they have a lot of ground to cover to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, given setbacks to progress in eradicating poverty, and the need to finance employment, education and health care. Noting that Haiti is facing a multidimensional crisis due to armed gangs, which has led to a staggering increase in the already critical unemployment rate, she said the Government is doing its best to address the situation, by setting up a transition council, which will enable the country to return to constitutional and democratic normality.
DAN FOGARTY (United States), while commending the important work of both the Commission and its Bureau, said the Commission’s purview has become so broad that it not only overlaps with various United Nations bodies, but also dilutes its capacity to examine subjects in an effective and in-depth manner. Primary examples include the Commission’s work on youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, he said, adding that the Commission’s treatment of these topics creates parallel work without the benefit of advancing the expert discussion and informed outcomes these subjects deserve. Recommending that the Commission phase out these multiple, recurring resolutions, he said it could consider negotiating a single thematic outcome document each year on a main theme that is not already within the purview of other bodies. This approach would avoid redundancy and would focus discussion on solutions to a single set of pressing social development challenges. The annual session could then be condensed to three or four days, he said, noting that various commissions of the Organization have already implemented this model successfully.
Ms. KISHABONGO (Democratic Republic of the Congo), spotlighting the many post‑COVID-19 challenges faced by her country, stressed the need to overcome inequality and ensure decent work for all. Vulnerability of the population has increased, she said, noting that poverty has been exacerbated and inequality is growing day by day. Further, the digital sector in her country has not developed significantly, she said, stressing the importance of digital training in protecting the most vulnerable individuals, in particular women and children, as well as persons with disabilities. She also stressed the need to improve working conditions in general in order to achieve decent work.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, noted that, in today’s logic, work is not for the human person, but the human person is for work. In this “throwaway culture”, middle-aged and older persons — assumed to have lower learning ability and productive capacities compared to other age groups — face unjust discrimination. The situation is not much easier for young people, and the constant search for new ways to cut labour costs without adequate concern often results in inadequate wages, long hours and insecure contracts that lack social-protection benefits, especially for unemployment, maternity, disability and illness. Pregnancy and motherhood remain a source of disadvantage at work or even a reason for women to be dismissed or not hired at all, he said, stressing that no woman should ever be forced to choose between family and work. Further, ending child labour requires creating opportunities for decent work that enable families to meet their needs without their children being forced to work. Policies and programmes designed to stimulate employment and economic growth must always respect and promote the fundamental rights of workers, including the right to a just wage, the right to rest and safe working environments.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Friends of Older Persons and the United Nations LGBTI+ Core Group, stressed the need to put people — especially the most vulnerable — at the centre of the international community’s efforts. Spotlighting his Government’s efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted that it implemented an ambitious vaccination and health-care plan and reconstructed its economy by focusing on import substitution and industrialization. On achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8, it has enacted three programmes which promoted the economic rejuvenation of small and medium-sized enterprises; supported youth on their needs; and provided access to credit in order to encourage national industries, job creation and investment in those enterprises. Among other things, he encouraged the Commission to strengthen young people’s economic participation; facilitate credit with a gender perspective; promote women’s labour market participation by closing the employment and leadership gap between men and women; ensure ongoing training programmes in line with existing demands; address the current digital gap; guarantee better opportunities to access jobs; and work with many stakeholders to creative inclusive employment opportunities. He also reiterated the importance of South-South, international, regional and subregional cooperation in that regard.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN (Kazakhstan), highlighting the multiple crises faced by vulnerable countries — including the economic downturn, pandemic and climate change — have reversed progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Against this backdrop, he outlined measures undertaken by his country, including, amid the pandemic, monthly income payments, deferred bank loans for vulnerable persons and the setting up of social centres to support low-income families. Further, Kazakhstan has revised its 2025 development plan to tackle unemployment, including a $10 billion package for a national project to stimulate employment and subsidize mortgage programmes, among other measures. For the elderly, he said his country has in place an active longevity plan to maximize the employment of older people, and has increased coverage for health check-ups, putting them ninth out of 29 countries assessed on the Active Aging Index. Kazakhstan has also enhanced investments in education and youth employment, including a special savings account set up for children until the age of 18, funded by the country’s oil revenues.
RIO HADA, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) observed that due to the pandemic, more than 350 million jobs have been lost — while pre-existing gaps in social protection and inadequate benefits have contributed to exacerbating deep-seated inequalities, with informal workers, most of them women, often excluded from protection. Women play a critical role in the economy and their contributions are often either not recognized or ignored with the global gender pay gap estimated to be about 23 per cent. While the fiscal space of developing countries is shrinking, he said that this is not the time for socially painful and potentially self-defeating fiscal austerity, which, as history shows, is a recipe for social breakdown and conflict. Rather, it is time to grasp fully that economic growth on its own will not redress the structural injustices that underlie the failure to achieve faster progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. He advocated for a human-rights-enhancing economy that seeks to redress root causes and structural barriers to equality, justice and sustainability, by prioritizing investment in economic, social and cultural rights.
PÄR LILJERT, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said poverty, lack of productive employment and the social disintegration are an offense to human dignity, adding: “Unfortunately, migrants today too often suffer from these offences to human dignity.” When the dignity of migrants is respected, it has the potential to catalyse progress towards sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda. While they represent just 3.6 per cent of the global population, migrants generate around 9 per cent of the world’s GDP. Migrants are agents of change, making contributions ranging from remittances to labour market participation and enterprise development. Describing human mobility as a positive instrument for — not an impediment to — the realization of sustainable development, he pointed out that migrant workers are overrepresented in the riskiest occupational sectors. Within countries and across industries, some groups of the population — such as migrant women — face significant pay gaps. Migrants must be included in the planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting of the 2030 Agenda, he emphasized, calling for ethical recruitment, safe migration and decent work for migrant workers through robust, multistakeholder partnership.
The representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) pointed out that COVID-19 and AIDS flourish on exacerbated inequalities and are compounded by multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination. Key populations at high risk of HIV, such as sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, gay men and men who have sex with men, account for 70 per cent of annual new HIV infections globally. While the majority of people living with HIV are of working age, stigma and discrimination continue to remain pervasive in the workplace as can be seen by higher unemployment rates for these individuals and more serious consequences for groups such as migrants and LGBTI workers. Full employment and decent work for all cannot be achieved while leaving out millions of people living with, at risk of or affected by HIV, she underscored, noting that the workplace should also be leveraged as an avenue to provide workers and their families with HIV prevention, treatment and care. She also emphasized the importance of ensuring social protections in the AIDS response and spotlighted cash-transfer programmes as an example in that regard. Destigmatization, decriminalization and inclusion saves lives, she stressed, urging all to deliver on zero stigma and discrimination against people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV.
The representative of Appui Solidaire pour le renforcement de l’aide au développement said that Mali faces serious security challenges which cannot be addressed in an isolated manner, adding: “Malians must be listened to and supported in this crisis.” Underscoring the need to prioritize food infrastructure, governance, health and other public services including education, he said that food insecurity and health are the most significant problems facing the country. Moreover, poverty is an issue that concerns women twice as much as men. Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said that support is required for refugees and internally displaced persons in the north, as well as access to basic social services, which are underfunded.
The representative of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University said dignity emerges from the intrinsic values of peace, love and truth. Connecting to the dignity and decent work is a powerful entry point, she said, noting that social values of sustainability and resilience are spiritual principles. Describing work as a human activity that draws on various dimensions of a person’s worth and talents, she described the right to decent work as one of the most fundamental expressions of human worth. With decent work, dignity is experienced in the workplace and in the community. During the pandemic, people lost jobs and young people found it difficult to enter the workforce to find jobs, she said, describing recovery programmes in India.
The representative of C-FAM noted that Sustainable Development Goal target 5.4, which commits Governments to “recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies, and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate”, remains unrealized and is often undermined. Both spouses in many families are forced to work more than they would like by social and economic forces beyond their control, because social arrangements prioritize GDP over the individual choices and personal freedom. The only way for families to escape the two-income trap is for Governments to fully commit to realizing Sustainable Development target 5.4, he stressed.
The representative of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd stressed that the industrial revolution was an innovative moment that offered the possibilities of full employment but morphed with the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few. Creating decent work for all with social protection is a crucial and necessary approach, but its implementation requires good will and trust on behalf of everyone, especially those in power and those who amass wealth. Citing Mahatma Gandhi, she said: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Humanity and the planet herself are now impacted and threatened by human avarice and exploitation, she said, calling for a determination to change egotistical and warmongering ways toward altruism, peace, sustainability and the well-being of all.
The representative of EuroGEO, spotlighting his organization’s work in the European Union and beyond, emphasized the need to prioritize the development of digital skills in the creation of decent jobs for all. There should be special trainings for young women and young entrepreneurs to that end, as well as trainings for teachers so that educational programmes can better prepare young people for the digital economy. Member States should undertake the necessary policy and regulatory adaptations to support digital employment, growth, equal opportunities, reduced labour market inequalities, enhanced quality jobs and well-designed programmes to facilitate and support the inclusion of disadvantaged and excluded groups, he added.
The representative of Fertility Education and Medical Management said her organization is dedicated to health education, medical research and improving reproductive health care to advance women’s health, and is engaged in educating women and girls, training doctors and producing health research. The ability to perform well at work is linked to health, she said, adding that many women, including those in the workplace, silently endure severe period pain and migraines, which, according to research, often indicates a lack of healthy hormone function and suggests underlying health conditions. Based on decades of research, her organization has developed protocols to allow medical professionals to provide diagnostic testing and treatment for a range of hormonal disorders, she reported.
The representative of the Grace Leadership Foundation, Inc. described how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected progress in Mali. To create a full productive employment and meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the Economic and Social Council must make a formal referral of non-governmental organizations with consultative status working in the field or create a funding source to assist. Due to lack of funding, association Grace Mali is still facing teacher shortages, not only in Siratiguila, but in Dialagoun, Kirina and Samaya. In Siratiguila, half of the students sit on construction planks supported by bricks. In Kirina, students in one classroom sit on the floor, she said, calling for external funding.
A youth delegate of the International Institute of the Blessed virgin Mary-Loreto Generalate, pointed out that decent jobs not only contribute to young people’s lifetime employment success but also have a proven multiplier effect on family well-being and the health of national economies and societies at large. Young people require financial and social investments to fulfil their potential, she said, urging the Organization to provide support to women- and youth-led businesses that create jobs for women; focus on relevant skills-based education which emphasizes the practical application of theoretical knowledge; and find better ways of communication that allow the public to offer their insights and influence legislation.
The representative of the International Association of Independent Journalists Inc. called for a new social group collective model outside of the present social group model that guides the work of the United Nations with non-governmental organizations and civil society stakeholders. Such a shift could help move away from segregating the human population into competitive, often combative groups, but instead, into one global homogeneous social group of everyone focused on the well-being of all, he said.
The representative of the International Federation for Family Development noted that a growing number of academic departments and degree programmes in the United States and Canada are incorporating the term “family science” into their names, with at least 165 university departments and academic programmes using it. Family science scholars’ knowledge and expertise means they are uniquely qualified for a wide array of jobs working to better understand, strengthen and empower families. Her organization expects to provide new advice to Governments, civil society, academia, schools, employers and other stakeholders on how to best prepare young people to be able to reduce inequalities during recovery from the pandemic.
The representative of the International Federation on Ageing urged Member States, international organizations, civil society and industries to address and reduce the exclusion of older people from the workforce and their inadequate access to life-long education, training and skills development. Efforts to execute the objectives of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing should be aligned with the creation of accessible labour markets for older people to reduce financial insecurities, poverty and unemployment. She also stressed Member States’ responsibility to protect the rights of older persons while calling for a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.
The representative of the International Movement ATD Fourth World said that her organization works to overcome poverty by seeking out people living in the worst conditions of poverty and exclusion and involving them in the fight against poverty. The suffering of those who lack resources is intensified by discriminatory treatment when trying to access employment. This situation often feeds non-take-up of rights, in which individuals choose not to receive the benefits they are entitled to, often due to shame, she said, adding: “Discrimination is both a cause and a consequence of poverty.” She called for bold, innovative solutions tailored to reaching those most excluded individuals in order to address such issues, stressing: “A wider, supportive environment is necessary, tailored to the individual’s circumstances.”
The representative of the Irene Menakaya School Onitsha emphasized the need to explore key issues, such as access to safe and healthy places, better spaces for learning and innovations that enable mindset development, self-reflection and open-ended questions among others. She recommended that the Commission rebuild quality, inclusive education to advance skill acquisition and creative learning; embrace a comprehensive vision on a creative and productive economy; introduce meaningful, inclusive listening consultations to enable indigenous peoples to have a clear understanding as they envision their sustainable futures; and undertake further actions towards solutions for core education values in driving Sustainable Development Goal 8 for the Decade of Action through rebuilding stronger networks and the development of an inclusive bilateral plan of action.
The representative of the Life Project 4 Youth citing World Bank figures that estimate that over the next decade, 1 billion young people will try to enter the job market, but less than half of them will actually find formal jobs, said: “We are heading straight for disaster.” This requires an immediate response, both from Governments and employers, she said, calling for the creation of new structures and spaces for dialogue and engagement between civil society and Governments; a change in attitudes and social norms in corporations and public spaces; and the setting of new precedents in the treatment of youth in danger. Further, companies must create work opportunities for all by committing to trust and hire a significant amount of marginalized youth in their workforce and train them internally and Governments must set public-private partnerships to adapt the national education system and training model to the job market and make sure all youth can benefit from it for free.
The representative of Make Mothers Mother noted that the pandemic has exposed how inequitable distribution of unpaid care work can be a major barrier to accessing decent work for women, especially when they are mothers. Unpaid care work represents between 10 and 30 per cent of GDP, and in some countries, more than half of the total work hours are unpaid. She called on the Commission to reaffirm the importance of addressing this issue on women’s access to and participation in the labour market, and to promote the appropriate measures, including recognizing unpaid care as valuable and skilful work; making accessible public infrastructure and services a top priority for Governments; and framing unpaid care work as a collective responsibility, with everybody taking their share, including Government and the private sector. This means initiating policies to promote a more equitable sharing between men and women, but also policies to support unpaid caregiver.
The representative of the Red Dot Foundation said that rapidly shifting global realities have prompted a deeper appreciation for peace, justice and strong institutions, investments in gender and racial equality, life-long learning institutions and global access to digital training. Asking the international community to recommit to creating an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development, she highlighted the need for a renewed social contract. The outcome document must contain concrete recommendations and measurable accountable outcomes, she said.
The representative of the Miss CARICOM International Foundation spotlighted her organization’s pilot programmes to create full and productive employment and decent work by teaching life skills to marginalized communities. Among other things, it has trained women in cake-baking, hat-making, agriculture and management, which has resulted in their gainful employment; equipped boys and men with digital and technological skills through digital programming; and developed curricula providing education on wallpaper designs, bleach-making, construction and sanitation. She then pledged her organization’s commitment to leverage digital transformation in promoting decent work among youth; advance economic standards, workers’ protection and income security along the digital world paradigm; and encourage life-long learning, reskilling and education for young people.
The representative of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas said that her organization has first-hand experience of witnessing intensifying climate-related suffering. Pointing out that such impacts are felt disproportionately by those most vulnerable, especially women, young people, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, she added that such people also have less potential to recover quickly from these impacts. She called on Governments to evaluate their performance following the pandemic and dedicate financing and inclusive policy solutions to accelerate progress to achieve the 2030 Agenda, especially concerning climate action, equality and gender responsiveness. Further, investments in public care services, the promotion of equal pay for work of equal value, and the introduction of minimum living wages with stronger collective bargaining remain the preconditions to gender equality, she added.
The representative of Soroptimist International stressed that it is only through education and decent work conditions — with no violence and harassment for any reason for all workers of any gender everywhere — that current crises can be solved. However, with the present social contract unravelling, there is an urgent need to redefine and renegotiate the relations within and among societies, between haves and have nots, as well as with nature. This new social contract must be based on United Nations principles, including respect for all human rights, gender justice and a contract with nature. She called for decent work, social protection for all, access to food, water, housing, health and education, sustainable economic growth and employment creation in the green economy, and social dialogue.
The representative of The Blue Tree Foundation highlighted the gaps in digital access between the rich and the poor, in digital competence and in digital citizenship. For everyone to coexist, new and universally valid norms on protecting everyone’s digital well-being must be taught. He asked that the United Nations actively foster partnerships between companies and specialized non‑governmental organizations to that end. He also called for the United Nations to establish a body to address the digital divide and other dysfunctional issues while providing a platform for non-governmental organizations around the world to engage in discussion.
The representative of UNANIMA International said that her organization has 25,000 members in over 85 countries and networks with the world’s most socially excluded people. Its grass-roots research suggests that, when people lack full and productive employment opportunities, they often rely on more precarious forms of work for survival. In response, she called on Member States to devise a more inclusive and gender-sensitive agenda for productive employment and decent work, including through the implementation of social protections for all; through the creation of policy measures to eradicate forced labour and end modern slavery and human trafficking; and through the recognition of unpaid and informal work, as well as the sharing of domestic and care work between genders.
The representative of the World Organization for Early Childhood Education noted that, in 2020, 160 million children worldwide were engaged in child labour — or 1 in 10 — and in the last four years, countries did not make progress in significantly reducing this scourge that remains unacceptably common. Within that already at-risk group, recent analysis reveals an even more vulnerable group: child migrants. Governments and other stakeholders have the tools and knowledge to eliminate this violation, with existing legal boundaries that further provide grounds for national action. She cited the importance of early childhood care and education in tackling inequalities and fostering human and social development, but noted that States and policy makers limit their responsibilities and understanding of how it can lay the foundation for prosperous societies. Needed is accelerated action on the goal to eliminate child labour by 2025, which is practically out of reach.
The representative of the World Union of Small and Medium Enterprises underscored the importance of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in creating full and productive employment for all while decreasing inequalities since they are responsible for more than two thirds of all jobs worldwide. Fostering women’s entrepreneurship contributes to the well-being of families, allowing for new childcare solutions, which, in turn, prevent criminality, child labour and trafficking. Governments and international organizations must promote entrepreneurship through adequate public policies and focus in particular on women entrepreneurs and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, she stressed.
The representative of the World Youth Alliance, a global coalition of young people between the ages of 10 and 30 dedicated to the promotion and defence of human dignity in policy and culture, stressed the need for human dignity education, which is essential to building human capital. To this end, she said her organization has been implementing its “Human Dignity Curriculum” in formal and non-formal classroom settings on every continent since 2017, helping inculcate qualities such as honesty, perseverance and generosity in all those who have undertaken it. “These are qualities that people at all levels of the workforce need to succeed,” she added.
The representative of the Congregation of the Mission said that decent employment is the beginning of a chain reaction that can lead to social mobility, access to health care and financial stability, which, in turn, improves livelihoods for millions of people for generations to come. However, many women, people with disabilities, youth and other marginalized groups face unacceptable conditions, lack of equal pay and discriminatory policies. Those with disabilities in particular face under- and unemployment in low- and high-income nations alike, with stigma and fear perpetuating those numbers despite willingness and ability to work. She called on the United Nations and its Member States to commit to community engagement relative to decent work, redesigning current structures and dismantling stigmas surrounding marginalized communities.