ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (ILO News) – After four days of discussion, the International Labour Organization's Xth African Regional Meeting concluded today with a broad set of recommendations on putting employment at the centre of Africa's development strategies and strengthening the organization's role in poverty reduction on the continent.
Delegates agreed to activate the ILO's tripartite network to support the Extraordinary Summit on Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa to be convened by African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in Burkina Faso in 2004. To that end, they called on the ILO to highlight examples of successful initiatives generating employment, so that the African leaders attending the Summit can concentrate on how to replicate and scale up action on poverty.
"The clear message coming out of our Addis Ababa meeting it is that tripartite members of the ILO pledge our full support to assisting the Summit in every possible way and ensuring its success", said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "The African-led development agenda, headed by the creation of decent jobs, is connecting with people's priorities and is a recognition of the essential link between jobs and poverty eradication."
Earlier in the week, Burkina Faso President H.E. Blaise Compaore addressed the meeting and stressed the ILO's critical role in contributing to the Summit as affirming the linkage between employment and the reduction of poverty in Africa.
In addition to expressing strong support for the preparations and follow-up to the Summit, the meeting's final statement - entitled " Decent Work for Africa's Development" - agreed on the priorities for action by the ILO to strengthen its role in Africa of the coming two to four years. The program of work is designed to further, through an integrated approach, the ILO's Decent Work agenda, which is rooted in the organization's strategic objectives of employment and enterprise creation, rights at work, basic social protection and social dialogue. Elements of the approach include the need to develop local markets, micro and small enterprises and cooperatives - with special emphasis on promoting employment among women and youth - and the upgrading of the informal economy to provide security to businesses and workers, improved social protection, and increased opportunities to raise productivity and sustain earnings.
With a large majority of Africa's poorest working families living in rural areas, delegates to the meeting also pointed to agriculture and related rural industries as vital to the enlargement of decent work opportunities.
Noting the value of autonomous, democratic and representative organizations of employers and workers to good governance and the efficient and equitable function of economies, delegates urged the forthcoming Summit to recognize the value of well-functioning mechanisms of social dialogue based on fundamental principles and rights at work. The meeting called on African governments and their development partners to ensure the greater involvement of these organizations as the representatives of main economic actors.
Delegates approved a resolution calling on African governments to support the efforts of employers and workers to combat HIV/AIDS by providing an enabling legal and policy framework for workplace action, measures to oppose stigma and discrimination, and the strengthening of national AIDS plans through the inclusion of a strategy for the world of work. The resolution also called on workers' and employers' organizations to increase their joint efforts to reduce the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS, and it called on the ILO to give greater priority to its efforts to combat the pandemic in Africa.
Noting that more than 300 million young
Africans will enter the labour force over the next
ten years, the delegates also approved a resolution
calling on the ILO to increase its focus on
promoting the employment of young people on the