CSocD and civil society

Call for endorsement of Statement to CSocD61 on Feb. 6-15, 2023: Sign on deadline is Nov. 13, 2022

Dear NGO leaders,
At the request of Soroptimist International–a full member serving also on CoNGO leadership–I would like CoNGO members and other NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status to  consider adding their endorsement to the statement prepared by Soroptimist International for the upcoming 2023 Session of the Commission on Social Development, and posted below.
If you endorse, please send the name of your organization as listed on the UN DESA iCSO database to Beverly Bucur at beverly.bucur@soroptimistinternational.org. Please note that the deadline to be added to the signatory list is Nov. 13, Sunday.
The focus of the statement is on the priority theme of CSocD61 in 2023–“Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”
Thank you for your kind attention.
Best regards,
Liberato | Levi

Liberato C. Bautista | Levi

President, Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in
Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)
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Church Center for the United Nations
777 United Nations Plaza, Suite 7C
New York, NY 10017 USA
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Statement to CSocD61 (2023)2023

This statement is presented by Soroptimist International on behalf of its members committed to improving the lives of women and girls in all their diversity in 122 countries and supporting organizations.

Women were by far the most impacted by job losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many in society and business still ascribe to the antiquated concept that men are the family breadwinners, so women’s work is more expendable. Countless women were also removed from the workforce because of the increased burdens and disruptions to their multiple roles in the family, increased care-taking responsibilities, and schools transitioning to remote learning.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, women regularly experienced precarity in the workplace, which included gender-based violence, and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. The impacts of these were compounded or exacerbated by the pandemic, but they are not new. For there to be a gender-transformative recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that the discrimination women experience in the world of work be eradicated. To address full and decent employment for women, free of gender-based discrimination and violence in the workplace, actions must be taken in education and training and by governments, businesses and societies.

Achieving Gender Equality in the Workplace

To achieve gender equality in the workplace and full, decent employment for women, policies and laws must reflect the realities of peoples’ lives and require action to close the gender gap, including the gender pay gap. For years, there has been an assumption that the world of work will slowly correct for the impacts of gender inequality; however, we can no longer wait for these slow, incre-mental changes. Immediate action must be taken by states to influence the creation of non-discriminatory workplaces by the enacting laws and implementing policies.

Specific and targeted efforts must be made to make workforces more gender equal. All avenues should be explored to achieve workplace gender equality, including the use of quotas. Social pro-tection and floors must also be amended to reflect the fact that many women work in the informal sector or in precarious employment situations without the same guarantees of security or financial resources as men. Women should not be placed at increased risk of poverty because of the type of work that it is more socially acceptable or accessible for them to pursue.

The Gender Pay Gap

Gender Pay Gap: the principle of equal pay for work of equal value has been established in ILO conventions and recommendations and is part of the concept of decent work. And yet, the gender pay gap is still a reality. In addition, unpaid care work needs to be defined, valued and compen-sated. Women’s pensions are affected by not only by gender pay discrimination, but also by their time off work due to their care and domestic responsibilities. This has long-term consequences with older women who are more likely to be poorer than men because of a lifetime of economic disadvantage.

The unequal distribution of caring, family and household tasks creates a significant barrier to women participating equally in the workforce. Men have a responsibility to contribute to the redistribution of household work and caring activities, and governments have a fundamental role to play as well. Improving parental leave so that fathers and co-parents can take more time off work alongside mothers and partners establishes a more equal distribution of caring responsibilities. It also pre-vents a motherhood penalty, which covers the motherhood wage gap, as well as all the discrimina-tions that mothers suffer in the workplace, in recruitment, and in career advancement when they become mothers. Governments and workplaces must do more to provide child care facilities and low cost child care which are a mounting barrier to women returning to work after bearing and car-ing for children.

Transition from Informal to Formal Jobs

Women are overrepresented in the informal economy for many reasons: economic, stereotypical role distribution, time spent in their childbearing and care responsibilities, lower levels of education, etc. However, informal jobs generate income and contribute to economic growth, so formalization can eliminate the negative aspects of informal jobs by offering social protection, without hindering job creation and/or resulting in job losses.

Informal jobs are those not protected by formal arrangements such as contracts, and therefore workers are not protected by rights under the law. Formalization of informal jobs is therefore es-sential for worker protection.
In addition, work in the informal economy is often characterized by unsafe workplaces and un-healthy working conditions, low levels of skills and productivity, low or irregular incomes, long working hours and lack of access to information, markets, finance, training and technology. All this factors create barriers to women reaching economic empowerment.

Universal Social Protection

Social Protection for all and establishing a minimum wage is a direct way of flattening the playing field and reducing inequalities. Universal Social Protection includes cash transfers for women and children, benefits, support for working women on maternity leave, disability or job loss, and pen-sions for older women. Social protection is thus the best way to prevent poverty and to end the in-tergenerational cycle of poverty. Social Protection provides guarantees of security for the unem-ployed or those transitioning to new jobs. Universal social protection and universal access to es-sential services allow women to seize opportunities to escape not only poverty and hunger but also social exclusion and discrimination. Social Protection can be provided through an expanded tax system, social insurance, tax-funded social benefits, social assistance services, and other schemes providing income security.

Eliminating Gender-based Violence and Harassment at Work

For years women in all their diversity have reported harassment and violence at work. Women in high-profile positions, public roles and politics are particularly targeted. The internet has made it easy to harass women while remaining anonymous. This abuse, violence and harassment often cause women to leave their jobs and stops women from taking up positions of leadership.

In many workplaces, gender-based violence at work is not treated seriously. In many cases, mem-bers of management or leadership themselves may be involved and women have no one to appeal to for support. In other cases, women have not been believed or the harassment has been consid-ered an inevitable part of the job. This is not acceptable. Workplaces must scale-up policies to eliminate violence in the workplace and provide support to victims of gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination.

International instruments exist to support the eradication of workplace gender-based violence, including ILO Convention 190 (2019). These international instruments should be used as templates for national mechanisms and must be fully implemented at the national levels to ensure women can freely enter and participate in the world of work free from violence.

Education and Training

Girls and women in all their diversity suffered severe setbacks in education and training during COVID-19. UNESCO data shows 11 million girls may not return to school after the COVID-19 pandemic, setting back years of global progress. This will reduce their future earnings, career pro-spects and skills development. For women who have left jobs, they may need to retrain to adapt to new technology and employment conditions.

To prepare women and girls to reenter the workforce, they must be provided with high-quality education and training to prepare them for changing employment needs. Steps must be taken to en-sure more women and girls participate in science, technology, engineering and math education. Given there is a global shortage of skilled trades workers, there should also be a renewed emphasis on vocational training as it will provide access to high paying jobs. Women must also be given the opportunity to obtain jobs in STEM fields.
Specific attention must be paid to those at risk of being left behind, including rural and Indigenous women and girls, those living through conflict, refugees and internally displaced persons and women and girls in care and state institutions. Older women and women currently out of work should be given enhanced access to educational programmes to learn new skills to increase their employability as it has become necessary to work longer.

Sustainable Futures

To recover sustainably from COVID-19 in a way that supports people and planet it is vital to bring about an economic transformation. Unprecedented weather patterns, heat waves and natural disas-ters are increasing, and countries must do more to reduce emissions to prevent climate change. We must shift away from a growth-based economic model, recognising that economies must work for people, rather than people working for economies. When taking steps to support women reentering the world of work, policies and programmes should approach achieving gender equality and com-batting climate change as mutually reinforcing aims. Women and girls must be able to access edu-cation and training to participate in the discussion and work on the solutions to save our planet.

Conclusions and Recommendations

To promote full and productive employment and decent work that supports the achievement of gender equality and overcomes the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by women and girls as part of recovery processes from COVID-19, Soroptimist International recommends the following actions are taken by states and relevant stakeholders:

· States must ratify the ILO Convention 190 on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work so that workplaces are safe and secure for all.
· Ensure equal pay for work of equal value is enforced.
· Extend social protection and workers’ rights to all workers, including those in the informal sec-tor.
· Promote job creation, access to financial services and lifelong education for women and girls.
· Increase investments in education and lifelong learning, and create specific, targeted programmes, including on digital technology and literacy, and STEM subjects and careers, focused on getting women and girls back to work, education, and vocational training.
· Ensure women are equally represented in leadership positions including the use of quotas.
· Expand paid parental leave policies and requirements, so that both parents can take leave that supports gender equality in the workplace and at home.
· Develop data sources and indicators on gender equality and sustainable development which in-clude both quantitative and qualitative sources of data.

· Partner with and provide funding for CSOs who are implementing projects to end discrimination and violence in the world of work.

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Co-sponsors: (As of November 14, 2023)

Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession
Associated Country Women of the World

Atheist Alliance

Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer
Generations United
Graduate Women International
Halley Movement for Social and Community Development
Hunger Project, The
International Alliance of Women
International Association of Applied Psychology
International Association of Counseling
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
International Cancer Expert Corps Inc.
International Council of Jewish Women
International Council of Women
International Federation of Associations of the Elderly
International Health Awareness Network
International Union of Psychological Science
JACE (Japan Asia Cultural Exchanges)
Making Mothers Matter
Maryknoll Sisters
National Alliance of Women’s Organizations
NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY
Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association
Red Dot Foundation
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
Servas International
Simply Help, Inc.
Sisters of Charity Federation
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem
Sulabh International Social Service Organization
Teresian Association
United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society
Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund
Vivat International
Widows Rights International
Women’s Board Educational Cooperation Society
Women for Water Partnership
Women’s International Zionist Organisation
World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitations
World Circle of the Consensus: Self-sustaining People, Organizations and Communities
World Council for Psychotherapy
World Union for Progressive Judaism
Zonta International

Supported by:
Business and Professional Women UK
NGO Committee on Aging-Geneva
NGO Committee on Aging–Vienna
NGO Committee on Peace-Vienna
UNA Mauritius
Women’s UN Report Network
WUZDA Ghana