Better opportunities for women are essential for the broader economic development of a country, which FPRW can help realise

Inaugural address by Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi, at the ILO-IAWS Workshop on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in the lead up to Women's Day 2022.

Statement | Online Meeting | 03 March 2022
Members of Indian Association for Women’s Studies, friends and colleagues -
Namaskar and good afternoon!

I am indeed delighted to be a part of this important initiative as the ILO and Indian Association of Women's Studies (IAWS) come together to uphold basic human rights at work.

This engagement is particularly crucial as students and researchers from different parts of the country have come together to deliberate and delve into the various aspects of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work derived from the International Labour Conventions and Recommendations.

In 1998, the ILO's Member States expressed their shared commitment to upholding basic human rights at work by adopting the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW).

They are the starting point for a virtuous circle of effective social dialogue, better conditions for workers, rising enterprise productivity, increased consumer demand, more and better jobs and social protection, and formalizing the informal economy.

The adoption of this Declaration underlines the international community's determination to take up the challenges in realising decent work and to ensure that social progress goes hand in hand with economic progress and development. FPRW provides the foundation to build equitable and just societies.

The current pandemic resulted in unprecedented pressure, more so on the majority of Indian workers who are engaged in informal employment. Past experiences have shown that such emergencies lead to a rise in poverty and aggravate inequality.

Underlining the international commitment for an inclusive recovery from the pandemic, at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in June last year, delegates from 181 countries representing the governments, workers and employers unanimously adopted the Global Call to Action for a Human-centred COVID-19 Recovery that prioritizes the creation of decent jobs for all and addresses the inequalities caused by the crisis.

Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining, Elimination of all forms of Forced or Compulsory Labour, Effective Abolition of Child Labour and Elimination of Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation are the four categories of labour standards, expressed in eight conventions (the so-called "core conventions"), which should be considered fundamental because they protect workers' basic rights.

Unless FPRW are realized in law and practice, neither the ILO's Decent Work Agenda nor the broader 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda can be achieved.

Being the only tripartite UN Agency since 1919, the ILO brings together governments, employers, and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes that promote decent work for all women and men. The strength lies in the diversity of our partners and the commitment to reaching beyond geographic boundaries to meet the challenges together.

An enabling policy environment in which issues are appropriately reflected, articulated, and addressed is much needed. Institutions and organizations such as Indian Association of Women's Studies play an essential role in reviewing existing provisions, undertaking research, and participating and advising in the planning process and evaluating socio-economic progress.

Given the challenges, the task before us is difficult but not unattainable. Our commitment to set new goals through collaboration and joint action underpins this opportunity.

Various legislations enacted by the Indian Parliament towards stabilizing livelihoods, equitable access to public services, promoting decent work opportunities and reducing inequality remain the yardstick. It is an opportune moment to strategize efforts and make commitments to meet the challenges.

Better opportunities for women are essential for the broader economic development of a country, which in turn enables more and better employment for women. Women have a greater inclination than men to invest a large proportion of their household income into their children's education, health, and welfare, potentially triggering a virtuous cycle of more equitable and inclusive development.

I hope that the two-day deliberations will enable knowledge sharing and awareness. Finally, as we inspire others, I wish every endeavour of this forum great success.

Thank you for your kind attention.