UN: ILO says 830 million women workers lack protection

New York, US (PANA) - The UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) says about 830 million women workers still do not have adequate protection, despite progress in maternity benefits and a positive trend in supporting new fathers.

In its report, entitled: "Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and practice across the world", ILO said 66 out of 185 countries and territories had committed to at least one of three maternity protection Conventions adopted in 1919, 1952 and in 2000.

It said in addition, 111 out of 160 countries had laws on dangerous or unhealthy work affecting pregnant or nursing women, and 78 set out explicit prohibitions against such work.

Besides maternity protection legislation, many countries also have measures to support working fathers. Of 167 countries studied, 78 stipulate a statutory right to paternity leave, which is often paid, underlining the trend of fathers’ greater involvement around childbirth.

It said leave provisions for fathers were most common in developed economies, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Paternity leave is paid in 70 out of 78 countries where there is entitlement.

The report’s co-author, Ms. Laura Addati, Maternity Protection and Work-Family Specialist at ILO’s Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, said: "While our findings suggest that many countries have adopted the principles of maternity protection and support workers with family responsibilities in their laws, lack of protection in practice remains one of the major challenges for maternity and paternity at work today".

Despite these strides, maternity discrimination persists in all countries, with around 830 million workers lacking adequate maternity protection in terms of leave and income security around childbirth.

She disclosed that almost 80 per cent of these women worked in Africa and Asia, and they were often self-employed, migrant, domestic, agricultural, casual or temporary workers, and indigenous and tribal peoples.

Among its recommendations, the report urged governments to adopt and implement inclusive laws and policies for effective protection.

These include making maternity protection and work-family measures universal and providing essential maternal health and income security around childbirth a basic social security guarantee.

The report also recommended pooling resources through social insurance or public funds and social care services to take the weight off employers and promote non-discrimination at work.

Ms. Shauna Olney, Chief of ILO's Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, said: "In order to have gender equality, you must have maternity protection and if you don’t have equality at home, it will be an uphill battle to have it at work."

"That’s where paternity benefits, childcare and other work-family policies come in," she added.
-0- PANA AA/MA 14May2014

14 may 2014 19:56:10

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