International Women’s Day

ILO Director-General: "Let us invest in women as part of a human-centred recovery"

To mark International Women’s Day, ILO Director-General paid tribute to the tremendous efforts made by women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statement | 08 March 2021
Today, on International Women’s Day, the International Labour Organization pays tribute to the tremendous efforts made by women during the pandemic.

We recognize and salute all working women, those working on the frontline and those shouldering an unprecedented and disproportionate burden of unpaid care work during the pandemic.

COVID-19 has radically changed the world and all our lives, including our working lives and women are amongst those most adversely affected.

In 2020, women’s employment loss stood at 5 per cent, compared to 3.9 per cent for men. In other words, 64 million women lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Hours of paid work have declined more sharply for women than for men. As a result, women have earned less, saved less with more women than men falling into poverty.

And women have also experienced more violence and harassment.

The slow progress, painfully achieved in the past decades must not be reversed, further widening gender inequalities.

The future must be brighter and different. Let us draw lessons and use the space we have now to rethink and to build forward better.

Let us construct a fairer and more equal model that takes into account the mistakes of the past as well as the achievements.

It is a collective responsibility.

And it is about political will – as governments, employers and workers. It is about what we are able to do – or not to do – and how. And we need to act now:
  • prioritize job creation that benefits women and men equally;
  • invest in universal care policies to support workers with care responsibilities;
  • advocate for more women leaders; and
  • ensure the dignity and safety of all women and men in the labour market.
Let us invest in women as part of a human-centred recovery.

This will require strong, transparent and sustained leadership, with women at the heart of decisions and plans, participating actively in the processes.

Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations must drive change through gender-inclusive policies, with women involved in policy design.

This International Women’s Day sets an ambitious goal: to have more women in leadership positions and to make the future more equal. The journey ahead is neither simple nor easy. But, humanity can only be at its best when gender equality becomes a reality for all, everywhere. We must and will make it happen.