International Labour Organization (2023) Achieving gender equality at work, Published at International labour conference, 111th Session, 2023. 306 p, ISBN 978-92-2-037744-4 (web PDF)

By Sivaja Nair (, Programme Executive, ICSF, Chennai, India

The International Labour Organization (ILO) released the report “Achieving Gender Equality at Work” in June 2023, which comprehensively analyses the progress made in promoting gender equality in workplaces globally. It identifies existing challenges and outlines recommendations for a more inclusive and equitable future. This brief report offers an overview of the key findings from the report and highlights crucial areas that demand urgent attention to foster gender equality at work.

The report reaffirms the persisting gender disparities across global workforce. Despite notable advancements in recent years, women continue to face significant obstacles in accessing quality employment opportunities, wage parity, and representation in decision-making positions. The study finds that women remain disproportionately affected by informal and precarious work, leading to heightened vulnerabilities in terms of social protection and job security.

The report also takes into account the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on gender equality at work. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities, with women bearing the brunt of job losses and increased unpaid care responsibilities. The report emphasizes the importance of targeted policies and measures to mitigate these adverse impacts and build back better with gender-inclusive approaches in the post pandemic recovery.

The report delves into the issue of the gender wage gap, revealing that women, on average, earn significantly less than their male counterparts for comparable work. The study also highlights the stark underrepresentation of women in leadership and decision-making roles across various sectors, hindering progress towards achieving gender equality at the highest level of organizations.

The report highlights the prevalence of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment faced by women. It calls for a comprehensive approach to combat these issues, emphasizing the importance of promoting safe and respectful working environments for all employees. Moreover, it underscores the need for robust legal frameworks and effective enforcement mechanisms to address such behaviour effectively.

A crucial aspect of gender equality at work is the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The report identifies the need for flexible work arrangements, parental leave policies, and affordable childcare facilities to enable both women and men to juggle work responsibilities with family life. By promoting work-life balance, organizations can enhance employee well-being, retention and productivity.

The report offers a series of comprehensive recommendations aimed at achieving gender equality at work which includes a) implementing gender-sensitive labour market policies to promote equitable access to decent work for women and men, b) strengthening legal frameworks to combat gender-based discrimination and harassment in the workplace, c) encouraging employers to adopt gender-responsive practices and eliminate unconscious biases in recruitment and promotion processes, d) investing in skills training and capacity-building programs for women to enhance their employability and advancement opportunities, e) advocating for equal pay for work of equal value and promoting wage transparency, f) ensuring access to affordable and high-quality childcare facilities to support working parents, and g) encouraging men’s involvement in caregiving responsibilities to challenge traditional gender norms.

The ILO’s “Achieving Gender Equality at Work” report serves as a wake-up call for governments, employers, workers, and civil society to redouble their efforts in promoting gender equality in the workplace. By addressing the identified challenges and adopting the provided recommendations, societies can create more inclusive and sustainable economies that capitalize on the full potential of both women and men. Gender equality at work is not just a matter of social justice but a prerequisite for achieving a fair and prosperous future for all.