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Published by atverc.nitesd, 2019-10-02 21:43:47

The Contribution of Social Dialogue to Gender Equality






This brief has been produced with support from the
Government of Sweden within the framework of the
Global Deal for Decent Work and Inclusive Growth.
It has benefited from inputs and comments received
by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD), the Government of Sweden,
the Swedish organization Union to Union as well as
the International Labour Organization (ILO, Bureau
for Workers’ Activities and the Bureau for Employers’
The thematic brief was produced under the overall
guidance of and with inputs from Manuela Tomei,
Director of the Conditions of Work and Equality
Department. Verena Schmidt, Collective Bargaining
Specialist in the ILO’s Inclusive Labour Markets,
Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch,
coordinated the paper and provided inputs; other inputs
were provided by Emanuela Pozzan, Specialist in the
Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, and Angelika
Muller, Specialist in the Social Dialogue and Tripartism
Unit. The text is based on an initial draft by Jane
Pillinger, Consultant. Thanks go to Coralie Thompson
for providing excellent administrative support.



Sound industrial relations and effective social dialogue Social dialogue includes all types of negotiation,
contribute to good governance in the workplace, consultation and exchange of information between
decent work, inclusive economic growth and or among representatives of governments, employers
democracy.1 They can also be important means of and workers and their organizations.
advancing gender equality and fair labour markets,
and vice versa. In June 2018, the International Labour Over time, the scope of social dialogue, including
Conference recognized this when calling upon ILO collective bargaining, has expanded in many countries
members to “promote gender equality and non- to encompass topics that are essential to achieving
discrimination, and encourage the strengthening and gender parity at work and in the family. These include:
increase of participation and engagement of women equal access for women and men to jobs and skills;
and youth in social dialogue” to reinforce social maternity and parental leave beyond the duration
dialogue and tripartism.2 established by law; the promotion of equal pay for
work of equal value to ensure fair wages for men and
Social dialogue, including collective bargaining, has women; and prevention of and protection against
enormous potential to contribute to the achievement violence and sexual harassment.
of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Gender-inclusive and gender-responsive workplace
Development, notably those on gender equality (SDG 5) cooperation helps enterprises to attract the best
and decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).3 New employees; enhance organizational performance;
initiatives aimed at facilitating the attainment of these reduce costs associated with staff turnover; improve
goals have been established, including the Equal Pay access to target markets; and minimize legal risks – all
International Coalition (EPIC). Spearheaded by the ILO, while enhancing their reputation.4 Indeed, companies
UN Women and the OECD, this coalition brings together with the highest levels of gender diversity on their
governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, executive teams are 21 per cent more likely than others
companies and academia to devise ways to accelerate to experience above-average profitability.5
progress on the achievement of equal pay for work of
equal value by 2030 (SDG 8.5). However, limitations regarding the impact and
sustainability of these efforts, as well as their relatively
However, women workers, everywhere across small scale, are apparent. These limitations are
the world, continue to be under-represented in compounded by declining union density rates and
decision-making bodies and processes that shape shrinking collective bargaining coverage, which are
workplaces and employment outcomes – including in in turn partially caused by weakening support for
contexts where women make up the majority of the multi-employer bargaining, unconditional derogations
workforce. This is not only unfair to women, it is also from collective agreements and disorganized
counterproductive for businesses, economies and decentralization of collective bargaining.6 In a number
societies at large. of countries, social dialogue institutions are struggling
to remain relevant in a context of profound economic,
This thematic brief seeks to understand the reasons for political and social changes.7
this situation and to identify actions that governments
and employers’ and workers’ organizations could take At the same time, although some progress is evident,
to advance gender equality through social dialogue. To unequal power relations between women and men,8
this end, the brief draws upon innovative experiences and the time poverty suffered by women as a result
from different regions of the world. In particular, it of their bearing a disproportionate burden of unpaid
looks at how social dialogue can deliver gender-equal care work,9 continue to limit women’s voice and
outcomes in a range of different sectors, whether in representation both in the workplace and in related
the formal or the informal economy, and identifies the decision-making bodies and processes. And yet,
circumstances and factors that can help bring about if women had a stronger say in decision-making
transformative change. The brief concludes with some processes such as social dialogue and collective
key recommendations for governments and employers’ bargaining, these processes would themselves gain in
and workers’ organizations. legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness, to everyone’s

The next section considers how these key conditions
can be promoted in practice.



In order to achieve SDG 5.5, ensuring “women’s full paid, on average, 20 per cent less than men; in some
and effective participation and equal opportunities for regions, their income can be 40 per cent lower than
leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, that of their male peers.18 In addition, women’s work
economic and public life”, it is essential that women are often “fall[s] outside the scope of labour legislation,
adequately represented in social dialogue bodies and social security regulations and relevant collective
in collective bargaining teams. More women in these agreements”.19 It is also alarming that progress towards
bodies and teams would not only make social dialogue gender parity, including in the area of economic
more relevant and responsive to women’s working participation, is reported to be shifting into “reverse”
lives, it could also trigger transformational changes in mode.20
other social spheres, provided that women and men are
encouraged and trained to advance gender equality in Gender gap of the labour force participation rate
social dialogue, and also in the labour market and the at global level
workplace at large.

ILO global research confirms the persistent under- 80%
representation of women in national social dialogue
institutions (NSDIs). A study of 195 countries, including 75%
187 ILO member States, shows that in 2008 female
membership of NSDIs was on average less than 20 60%
per cent; available data for 2018 show average female
membership in NSDIs still only between 20 and 35 per 48.5% 26.5%
cent, in particular in Africa, the Americas and Europe.
There are, nevertheless, some inspiring examples of 40% gender gap
parity or near-parity (female membership in NSDIs of 20%
45 per cent or over), namely France, Norway, Saint
Kitts and Nevis, Samoa and Switzerland.10 0%

SLoaubrcoeu: Wr foorlrdcEemgpleonymdeenrt agnadpSaoctiagl lOoubtlaolokle: Tvreenl ds for

Women, 2017.

Despite some progress, then, the continued under- Gender pay gap at global level (hourly pay)
representation of women in social dialogue reflects a

s10e0%rious democratic deficit, undermining the functioning

and the legitimacy of social dialogue institutions.11

I8t0% also reflects a paradox: namely, that although

today women in many p7a5rt%s of the world are better

educated,12 and are more likely to join trade unions13

a60n%d employers’ organizations,14 their representation in 20%

dl4o0e%wceisriothna-mn48amk.e5inn%g’sp.15osMitoiornesovienr,soevceianl dialogue remains gender gap
in places around

the world where there is an inncorteaaslgew2eani6ndy.es5wr g%oraempseunlt trade
union members, this does in a
p20r%oportional increase in women’s representation in

leadership structures.16 Source: ILO Global Wage Report 2018/19.

0% DInesfeicrittstitlien hweroem: eGnlo’sbavlosicaelaryangdenadgeerngcayp at work
are caused by unequal power relations between
wAInnhsyeurntwdtoietmlresetnhanedraeirne:gLasoobfoupstrorouforclrtycurearegl pearnendsdeenrotgethadepr reasons
in social

dialogue institutions can help in identifying strategies women and men, persistent gender stereotypes,

to overcome this shortfall. Deficits in women’s voice the undervaluing of women’s work and women’s

and agency in social dialogue reflect women’s uneven shouldering a disproportionate burden of care work:

participation in the labour force. Currently, only 48.5 all these factors lead to both direct and indirect

per cent of women, compared to 75 per cent of men, discrimination.21 Am2sa0nta.h8ge%emgleoCEnbaetasnltbteryarinnl iatEthniuaedrtoiWvIpLeeeOsatoneBndrnuArwesoaiamu eonf
are in the labour force (a gender gap of 26.5 points).17 in business and
Those women who are in the labour market experience
Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) has found, gender

a range of disadvantages, including discrimination stereotyping linked to family responsibilities and
aimt prleiccarutiiotmnsen1fot5r a.t3nhde%tlyapbNAemooruetahrrnicdma aqrukaeltityseogf rjeogbastiion1n,w3hw.3icit%hh aNnodrthWsmeterransos,tencSrgunoeulEistnuhtereobrnpac,erorireprsortaotewomcueltnu’srepsartriecmipaaitnionaimn bounsginethses

women are employed. Globally, women continue to be and management.22 Asia and
the Paci c


Many employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well union wages. The survey found that 34 per cent
as governments, believe that more needs to be done to of unions responding to the survey had women on
promote women’s representation in decision-making.23 their executive committees. Regional variations are
Trade unions have made efforts to ensure that women’s apparent: for example, in North America 45 per cent
representation in decision-making reflects the range of of union executive committee members are women,
jobs, skill areas and sectors in which women work.24 whereas in the Arab States the proportion is just 25
Examples of such efforts include quotas for women’s per cent. Worldwide, women make up around 30
participation in union congresses, reserved seats per cent of trade unions’ wage negotiation teams,
on executive bodies, and representation of women but this percentage is much lower in Asia and the
in decision-making bodies proportional to their Pacific, Africa and the Arab States. Around half of
membership in the organization at large.25 Dedicated the trade unions responding to the survey stated that
gender equality departments and gender equality or their negotiating teams or commission members are
diversity committees have also been created in many briefed or trained on gender issues in preparation
trade union confederations as a basis for advancing for wage negotiations. Most had a specific gender or
equality in both the internal and external functions of broader equality committee. In addition, 70 per cent
trade unions.26 of responding unions stated that they had an internal
operational strategy to improve female representation
A survey by the ILO Bureau of Workers’ Activities in the organization (e.g. internal guidelines or quotas).
(ACTRAV)27 points to ways in which women’s The European Trade Union Confederation has been
representation in trade union decision-making particularly proactive in this regard (see box 1).
structures can lead to improved outcomes in setting

Gender pay gap per region (factor-weighted hourly pay)

20.8% Eastern Europe and
Central and Western Asia

15.3% North 13.3% Northern, Southern,
America and Western Europe

19.8% Asia and
the Paci c

13.1% North Africa and
Arab States

Latin America and 21.8% Sub-Saharan
the Caribbean Africa


GSoeunrcdee: rILpOaGylogbaalpWpaeger Rreepgoiortn2018/19.


Box 1. “ From membership to leadership”: A survey by the ILO’s Bureau of Employers’ Activities
Gender-balanced representation in (ACT/EMP) found that some progress had been
trade union decision-making bodies – made in improving the representation of women in
The experience of the European Trade employers’ organizations (EOs): “Women leaders and
Union Confederation (ETUC) managers are gaining ground in EO secretariats.”30 The
survey, based on responses from over 50 employers’
In 2011 the ETUC executive committee adopted organizations, found that women occupy 34 per
recommendations for improving the gender balance cent of top management positions and 38 per cent
in trade union structures to better reflect the of deputy executive management positions. Women
diversity of the membership and to ensure that the made up 18 per cent of the chairpersons and 26 per
ETUC adequately represents women’s interests.28 At cent of vice-chairpersons on standing committees;
its 2017 mid-term conference, the ETUC introduced these data were “indicative of the increase in women’s
equal representation – 50:50 women and men – in participation in lower level leadership positions”.31 Of
the ETUC executive and other committees. As part the top two positions in EO executive committees
of its effort to promote gender diversity in trade that manage the day-to-day implementation of the
union membership and decision-making structures, respective organizations’ strategic plans, 18.7 per cent
the ETUC carries out an annual equality survey to were held by women. Of all the EOs surveyed, 7.5 per
monitor women’s representation in unions. The cent had women chairing the board; most had 10 per
2018 survey29 noted that while female trade union cent or fewer women on the board of directors; and
membership had risen to 46.1 per cent of overall just 8 per cent had gender-balanced boards.32
union membership, women accounted for just 37.2
per cent of union leadership teams, 33.5 per cent of As the global initiative on women in business and
unions’ key decision-making bodies and only 26.2 management by the Bureau of Employers’ Activities
per cent of the national confederations’ key leaders. (ACT/EMP) has established, there are plenty of good
Although these figures show that there is still room practices available to promote women in business and
for improvement, they mark significant progress management at company level. Measures suggested
since the 2011 resolution. by EOs included child-friendly policies, positive
discrimination, addressing male-dominated cultures
Representation of women in employers’ and encouraging more dialogue around gender
organizations (EOS) at global level diversity to support work–family balance and greater
equality in leadership and management for their staff.33
Top management positions Gender diversity in EOs is crucial: “Ultimately, the more
gender diverse the members of the EO, the greater
34% the pool of women able to lead, represent and/or
participate in decision-making within EO governance
Deputy executive management structures.” 34

38% Greater efforts are needed to improve women’s access
Chairpersons on standin3g4co%mmittees to senior and leadership positions in the workplace
and in workers’ and employers’ organizations in
18% order to integrate gender equality into bargaining
more effectively. In some cases work to this end can
Vice chairpersons on standing committees be facilitated through legal measures to strengthen
women’s representation in social dialogue, as in Algeria
26% and Chile, where legislation was recently enacted
stipulating that one-third of members of NSDIs should
SRoeuprcree: sILeOn: tAaGtiloobnaloSfnwaposmhoet,n20i1n7.employers’ be women.35 It is also encouraging that women and
organizations (EOS) migrant workers are increasingly challenging unions
with the assertion that they should be more inclusive in
order to be effective agents of social change.36


4 MAKING THE VARIOUS ACTORS IN world of work and to establish priorities on gender
. AND LEVELS OF SOCIAL DIALOGUE equality. An example of bipartite social dialogue is
the European Social Partner Framework of Actions
MORE RESPONSIVE TO GENDER on Gender Equality that was agreed in 2005. Working
together, the social partners found common ground in
EQUALITY AND TO WOMEN’S NEEDS identifying four priority actions for their work: to address
gender roles; promote women in decision-making;
AND INTERESTS support work–life balance; and tackle the gender pay
gap. The national social partners implemented the
Social dialogue can promote gender equality, taking framework of actions through collective bargaining,
into account different levels of institutionalization of positive actions and awareness raising. Continuing
social dialogue and collective bargaining. In some this focus, and in an effort to share learning and good
countries, where there are no formal social dialogue practices, in May 2014 the European social partners
structures for resolving work-related problems, launched a web-based “Toolkit for gender equality in
dialogue between workers and managers/employers practice”, setting out 100 innovative initiatives by social
can be encouraged with the aim of implementing partners in different sectors across Europe.39
practical changes and adjustments in the workplace,
often opening doors to the representation of workers Box 2. Viet Nam’s code of conduct
by trade unions. In addition, employers’ and workers’ on sexual harassment
organizations often adopt their own gender equality in the workplace
policies and strategies to advance gender equality with
a view to informing and enriching the process of social In Viet Nam the absence of legislation on sexual
dialogue. harassment at work prompted the tripartite partners
to jointly agree measures to fill this gap by drawing
One important point is that unionized workplaces up a code of conduct on sexual harassment
offer a range of benefits for women at work, for in 2015.40 The Ministry of Labour, the Viet Nam
example through non-discriminatory employment and Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Viet
recruitment practices. In the area of equal pay for work Nam General Confederation of Labour worked
of equal value, trade unions often promote inclusive together, with assistance from the ILO, to draw
wage setting, including minimum wages, along with up the code of conduct to provide guidance on
efforts to improve women’s representation in wage preventing and addressing sexual harassment in
negotiations.37 Not only do unions improve workers’ the workplace. The code recognizes that sexual
pay and conditions of employment, they can also harassment is a form of sex discrimination that
increase the take-up rates of workers’ entitlements. For results in high costs for companies. It gives practical
example, one study revealed that union-represented guidance on implementing and monitoring policies
women in the United States were 17 per cent more likely on sexual harassment. A pilot programme led to the
to take maternity leave than non-unionized women.38 In implementation of workplace and company policies
non-unionized workplaces, a lack of information about in 20 enterprises, which committed themselves
rights to maternity leave, along with fears of losing to monitoring their implementation. The code of
other entitlements, were reasons given for not taking practice has become a useful tool in the growing
maternity leave. garment sector, which is predominantly staffed by
women, and in which some leading companies now
Tripartism is an important mechanism for integrating a require factories to adopt policies to prevent violence
gender perspective into discussions about issues such and harassment at work.
as social and economic policies, minimum wages and
gender equality that are carried on through national
economic and social councils. To be effective, these
tripartite institutions need to have sufficient leverage
and impact to make the reaching of tripartite consensus
a realistic prospect (for an example from Viet Nam, see
box 2).

Bipartite social dialogue between workers and
employers includes collective bargaining and
workplace cooperation at all levels, and when
successfully implemented can help to raise awareness
about sensitive or new issues that are emerging in the


4.1. Collective bargaining – how to make it Trade unions’ focus on enhancing gender equality
work for gender equality in social dialogue

Collective bargaining is a process of voluntary 41% Improving wages
negotiation between independent unions and for low-paid workers
employers (or employers’ organizations) to determine
terms and conditions of employment and relations 37% Unionizing/extending coverage
between the parties. Collective bargaining is an of legal minimum wages or
important mechanism for implementing gender collective agreements
equality across sectors and in workplaces, in particular
in conjunction with other regulatory measures such 21% Improving pay
as company agreements.41 It plays an important in female dominated sectors
role in addressing gender inequality in areas such
as narrowing the gender pay gap and facilitating the 23% Using of gender-neutral job
full participation of women in the labour market.42 In classi cations and evaluations
addition, women’s representation in negotiating teams
has helped expand the scope of collective bargaining 23% Improving transparency in pay by developing
to include issues of particular importance to women equal pay audits and gender equality plans
workers, such as maternity protection, work–life
balance and the prevention of sexual harassment at Source: ILO: Closing the gender pay gap, forthcoming.
Focus of trade unions for improving gender
Preconditions for successful approaches to gender equality
equality in collective bargaining include a strong
commitment to gender equality on the part of both wages or collective agreements to, groups of workers
employer and union negotiators. Provisions to extend traditionally in vulnerable types of employment (37
collective agreements across an entire sector by per cent).47 In addition, some trade unions focused on
ministerial decision after consultation with the most improving pay in female-dominated sectors (21 per
representative employers’ and workers’ organizations cent), the use of gender-neutral job classifications and
help to increase the coverage of collective agreements evaluations (23 per cent) and improving transparency
considerably. Provisions in the law to incentivize the in pay by developing equal pay audits and gender
bargaining teams to tackle gender equality issues can equality plans (23 per cent).
also have a significant effect.44
4.1.2. Gender-neutral job evaluation methods.
Collective agreements contribute to the implementation
of the obligations stemming from the relevant national An important issue is ensuring that there is no bias or
legislation and can also broaden such obligations, for discrimination in pay setting and in the relative value
example, in the area of extended rights to parental or given to women’s and men’s jobs. Box 3 describes an
maternity leave. There are a number of different ways in instance in the water sector in Peru that shows how
which collective bargaining has contributed to gender collective bargaining led to the implementation of a
equality; these are described below.45 gender-neutral job evaluation scheme that helped to
revalue women’s jobs and skills and increase women’s
4.1.1. Integration of gender equality concerns into pay.
traditional bargaining topics.
4.1.3. G uidance and technical assistance to
This entails ensuring that pay bargaining takes bargaining agents.
into account discriminatory pay systems and the
undervaluing of women’s work, as well as promoting This is another means that has been used by social
specific gender pay equality measures, such as gender partners to incorporate a gender perspective in
pay audits and action plans designed to detect and preparations for pay negotiation. An example of this
address the gender pay gap.46 The ILO ACTRAV survey was a joint initiative undertaken in Belgium by experts
on the role of trade unions in wage setting for gender in the three union confederations and the Government’s
equality found that trade unions have given a particular Institute on Equality for Women and Men, which led
focus to improving wages for low-paid workers (41 per to gender-neutral job evaluation and job classification
cent of unions responding to the survey) and to efforts criteria being agreed to inform collective bargaining
to unionize, or extend coverage of legal minimum with the aim of closing the gender pay gap.48 This
has been important in equipping negotiators with
the relevant knowledge, skills and data to engage in
collective bargaining on this complex issue.


Box 3. Collective bargaining for Box 4. German social partners in the metal
gender-neutral job evaluation sector agree on an innovative
in the water sector in Peru collective agreement to increase
flexibility for workers and redistribute
The agreement by the Lambayeque water trade working hours
union (a member of the FENTAP national union) and
the Public Water and Sanitation Board (EPSEL SA) to In February 2018 the metalworkers’ union IG
undertake a gender-neutral job evaluation followed Metall signed a cutting-edge collective bargaining
from a labour court ruling requiring that the company agreement with the employers’ organization
and union review the existing discriminatory job Südwestmetall enabling workers to renegotiate
classification system. This case represents a good working hours according to their preferences
example of bipartite collective bargaining, leading and thus improve their work–life balance.53 The
to a joint union–employer job evaluation task agreement includes a 4.3 per cent pay rise from April
force. Task force members were trained in gender- 2018, plus much greater flexibility including reduced
neutral job evaluation techniques; an occupational working time to 28 hours a week for those who want
health risk assessment was also carried out; and a or need it, and a choice for those workers who have
survey was conducted to collect information about children still in education, are caring for dependent
the requirements of every job. On the basis of the parents or are shift workers of an additional pay rise
information gathered in these ways, a new job in 2019 or extra paid days off. All workers will receive
classification system was agreed, giving higher value a supplement of 27.5 per cent of a monthly wage, to
to the work traditionally carried out by women. Over be paid for the first time in July 2019 together with
time, the salary scales are being gradually modified a one-off payment of €400. In return, the employers
so that they are in keeping with the new classification can recruit a higher proportion of employees on
system. Every year, a budget is assigned to pay for contracts with longer working hours (up to 40 hours
these upward adjustments.49 a week) to balance the reduction in working time.
The collective agreement covers around 900,000
4.1.4. Working time and work–life balance. workers in the metal and electrical industries in
The revised European Framework Agreement on
Parental Leave signed by the European social partners 4.1.5. A ddressing violence against women,
in 2009,50 which led to a revised Directive on parental including domestic violence.
leave,51 sought to encourage men to take parental
leave by providing for at least one of the four months The growing awareness of the impact of domestic/
to be non-transferable, as an incentive to increasing family violence in the workplace has led to collective
men’s take-up of parental leave. agreements and jointly agreed workplace policies
in Australia, Canada, the United States and several
Examples of national agreements include a 2013 European countries.54 Frameworks for some of these
agreement on paid parental leave between the Swedish measures exist in legislation, for example, in the form
trade union confederation LO and the Confederation of stipulations on paid and unpaid domestic violence
of Swedish Employers which introduced a parental leave.55
supplement as part of the collectively agreed national
parental leave insurance system, compensating for 80 It is also relevant to note that recent bargaining on the
per cent of the wage reduction faced by parents taking prevention of violence and harassment against women
parental leave (up to a wage of about 37,000 Swedish and men in the world of work, includes measures to
krona a month).52 Box 4, outlining the recent agreement integrate specific provisions on gender-based violence
on working time in the metal sector in Germany, into wider agreements on violence and harassment
shows the application of an innovative approach to and in establishing codes of conduct for effective
addressing the need for flexible working time, with workplace complaints mechanisms.56 For example,
positive outcomes for working parents and carers. the European Social Partners’ Framework Agreement
signed by BusinessEurope, CEEP, UEAPME and ETUC
in 2007 on the implementation of measures to end all
forms of violence and harassment at work (physical,
psychological and/or sexual) provides a framework for
sectoral and workplace agreements across Europe.57


4.2. Ingenious solutions to foster gender Most global framework agreements adhere to principles
equality through workplace cooperation on social dialogue and gender equality as set out in
the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and
Workplace cooperation (at the level of a company or the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning
workplace) involves information sharing, consultations, Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. The
workplace policies and joint initiatives on the part of OECD’s recent guidance on due diligence specifies:
both the company and workers’ representatives. “Applying a gender perspective to due diligence
An example of a relatively new area of workplace means thinking through how real or potential adverse
cooperation is addressing gender-specific safety and impacts may differ for or may be specific to women.”62
health risks, moving occupational safety and health Particularly relevant are provisions to establish due
beyond the traditional focus on physical risks to diligence frameworks for gender equality on issues
include a wider range of risks affecting psycho-social such as gender-based violence or gender diversity.63
well-being at work. This is an important entry point in Box 5 provides an example of how tackling violence
the search for joint solutions on specific gender-related against women was incorporated into a global
issues in the working environment, such as women’s framework agreement.
and men’s reproductive and sexual health, or reducing
the impact of the menopause and menstruation on Box 5. Carrefour–UNI global framework
women’s full participation in work.58 A related issue is agreement on social dialogue and
limited access to sanitation facilities or toilet breaks, diversity
which represents a serious breach of workplace
rights for women and men with significant health The Carrefour–UNI global framework agreement
consequences, particularly affecting menstruating or (2001, 2015 and 2018) covers one of the world’s
pregnant women. Limited access to sanitation facilities largest retail distribution groups.64 The agreement
can even prevent women from going to work at all, reflects a long-standing joint commitment on the part
making it difficult for the women and their families of the company to promote social dialogue and joint
to break out of poverty. The campaign run by the initiatives on anti-discrimination, gender diversity,
International Transport Federation (ITF) on “The right equal opportunities in hiring and promotion, support
to flush” exemplifies the seriousness of this issue and for pregnant and nursing women, and adjustments
the importance of providing safe toilets for women.59 to hours and working conditions for staff returning
Social dialogue has been one way of highlighting and from maternity or paternity leave. The 2018 renewal
finding joint solutions to these workplace issues. added a joint commitment to address violence
against women at work, building on recent work to
4.3. Cross-border social dialogue, global prevent violence against women; this is exemplified
framework agreements and gender in Carrefour’s guide for human resources managers
equality and employees on “Tackling violence against
women in the workplace”, and its training of 200
Cross-border social dialogue is another level on which store managers in prevention campaigns and how to
a gender perspective can be integrated, for example identify violence and provide support to victims.
through joint agreements, commitments and corporate
social responsibility initiatives. This is increasingly 65
taking place in global framework agreements and
joint commitments between multinational enterprises
and global union federations. It is notable that there
has been a significant increase in recent years in
the inclusion in such agreements of gender equality
clauses and the monitoring of their implementation,
covering sectors where women predominate, such as
retail, garments and agriculture.60 While globalization
has opened up opportunities for women’s participation
in formal work, export processing zones (EPZs) and
the lower segments of global supply chains in female-
dominated sectors frequently fail to provide rights to
decent work and living wages.61


5 EXTENDING SOCIAL Box 6. Supporting social dialogue for
. DIALOGUE TO THE informal women transport workers
in Uganda
The Amalgamated Transport and General Workers
Two billion people – more than 61 per cent of the Union (ATGWU) is helping informal women transport
world’s employed population, comprising 58 per cent workers and women working around transport
of working women and 63 per cent of working men hubs to organize to end violence and inequality at
– make their living in the informal economy.66 These work.74 Working through the ATGWU Informal Sector
people lack access to social dialogue mechanisms.67 Women’s Committee, negotiations have been carried
out to protect women’s safety and improve access to
Although social dialogue for informal workers remains a toilet and other facilities, as well as access to social
challenge, tripartite social dialogue is promoted under protection. There has been an increase in the union’s
the ILO’s Transition from the Informal to the Formal membership following the affiliation of associations of
Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204) as a means informal transport workers and its work in organizing
to represent the interests and participation of informal and supporting GALIMA (an all-women association
workers and their transition to the formal economy.68 of survivors of HIV and AIDS in transport), as well as
The need to redress the low coverage of informal traders and home-based workers organized through
workers in social dialogue and collective bargaining the Tukolere Wamu Craft Development Association,
has prompted trade unions to make greater efforts to among others. The establishment of the ATGWU
recruit, organize and represent informal workers, often Informal Sector Women’s Committee has also led
in partnership with informal workers’ organizations, to local women’s committees being formed, helping
for example, the Self-Employed Women’s Association women to understand their rights and encouraging
(SEWA) and the global network Women in Informal them to report violations of rights and abuse.
Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). In addition, education workshops and informal
This work has helped to strengthen the collective voice education work on the streets in major transport
of women informal workers.69 Indeed, as the editors of hubs and within the union have helped to change
one study note: “Informal workers, their organizations men’s attitudes and given women more confidence
and their campaigns, represent the leading edge of the to report abuse.
most significant change in the global labor movement
in more than a century.”70 Some informal workers have been brought within the
scope of social dialogue and collective bargaining,75
Structures created within trade unions to represent for example in respect of minimum wages, social
informal workers include the Union of Informal Workers security or maternity rights. Tripartite social dialogue
Associations, established in 2015 by the Ghana Trades has been crucial in establishing measures to formalize
Union Congress, and the Ugandan Amalgamated domestic workers’ employment and to negotiate
Transport and General Workers Union Informal Sector minimum wages.
Women’s Committee, which focuses on informal
women transport workers.71 Similarly, employers’
organizations in several regions have collaborated
with informal economic units and small employers
in promoting the transition from the informal to the
formal economy.72 Examples include representation
of the interests of small and/or informal enterprises
as carried out by the Federation of Kenya Employers,
the Ghana Employers’ Association and the employers’
organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Box 6 shows how education by a trade union in Uganda
helped to reduce abuse of and violence towards
informal economy workers.



As the Inception report for the Global Commission on
the Future of Work notes, the future organization of
work faces unprecedented challenges arising from the
increasing fragmentation of production, the growth of
non-standard forms of employment and technological
advances.76 Social dialogue can contribute in the
search for solutions to issues raised by these changes,
taking into account the gender-related effects of new
patterns of work on digital labour platforms such as
crowdworking and more fragmented working patterns
in the “gig” economy.77 As the ILO points out, there is
a need “to manage the unequal distribution of these
gains and potential disproportional impacts by gender,
sector and skill level”.78 In relation to the growth of
employment in the digital economy, women lag behind
men partly because of their lower share of employment
in information and communications technologies and
in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM) fields, but also because of their systematic
under-representation in top management and academia
in these sectors. As the OECD argues, the digital
gender gap must be closed, not only because of the
business opportunities doing so would provide, but
also to ensure women’s inclusion in opportunities
arising from digitalization and automation.79

Women’s care roles are a major structural barrier to
women’s equal participation in work at all levels,80 and
balancing work and family life is one of the biggest
challenges for women across the world.81 This issue
will increasingly appear on future social dialogue
agendas as part of efforts to enhance women’s career
progression and to close the gender pay gap, along
with wider societal measures to redistribute unpaid
care work more equally between women and men,
and through the provision of state-subsidized and/or
state-provided care for children and elders. While the
anticipated future growth of jobs in the care economy,
particularly in response to demographic change, may
help to enhance women’s participation in work, there
is an imperative need to ensure the quality of work in
this sector.82


GEMoiPnLgOfoYrEwRaSr’dO: KReGyAreNcIoZAmTmIOeNndSaAtioNnDs fGorOwVoErkReNrMs’ aENndTSeFmOpRloPyReOrs’MoOrgTaInNizGations
aGnEdNgDoEvRerEnQmUeAnLtsITfYorTpHroRmOoUtGinHg gSeOnCdIeAr LeDquIAaLliOtyGthUroEugh social dialogue

Recommendations for

Promote tripartite social dialogue Ratify and effectively implement Encourage the social partners to
and encourage the development of ILO Conventions on freedom of engage in gender-responsive social
national policies on gender equality, association, collective bargaining, dialogue strategies to close the
gender-disaggregated data and gender equality and tripartite gender pay gap, and to promote
measures to promote the transition consultation.83 work–life balance, parental leave,
from the informal to the formal maternity protection and ending
economy. Recommendations for sexual harassment at work.
employers’ organizations

Implement policies to support and Provide practical support to employers Put in place awareness raising and
promote women’s further participation and companies to encourage them to training to find effective solutions
and representation in the workplace, implement gender equality strategies to tackling unconscious bias and
in employers’ organizations and in and programmes in the workplace, other factors that inhibit women’s
social dialogue institutions, including within employers’ organizations and in appointment to senior and leadership
in leadership positions. social dialogue institutions. roles.

Recommendations for
workers’ organizations

Promote the representation Engage in organizing and Draw up training and Make full use of
of women in decision- recruitment of workers in guidance materials for tripartite and bipartite social
making bodies in proportion non-standard and informal workers’ representatives dialogue mechanisms and
to their membership in work and in the platform so that they can effectively negotiations to advocate
trade unions, and ensure economy. advocate gender-responsive gender-based policies,
that women are effectively social dialogue, including including policies on
represented in senior and guidance on how to work–life balance and on
leadership positions in effectively integrate gender violence and harassment at
workers’ organizations and equality in social dialogue work.
through gender-balanced processes.
collective bargaining teams.

Source: Author’s illustration.


ENDNOTES 23 ILO: Survey on the role of trade unions in wage setting for
gender equality (Geneva, forthcoming); ILO: A global snapshot.
1 Global Deal for Decent Work and Inclusive Growth: Building 24 ILO: Closing the gender pay gap: What role for trade unions?,
trust in a changing world of work: The Global Deal for Decent ACTRAV Policy Brief (Geneva, forthcoming). See also Pillinger and
Work and Inclusive Growth flagship report 2018 (Paris and Wintour: Collective bargaining and gender equality; Briskin and
Geneva, OECD and ILO, 2018), p. 16. Muller: Promoting gender equality through social dialogue.
2 ILO: Resolution concerning the second recurrent discussion 25 European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC): From
on social dialogue and tripartism, International Labour membership to leadership: Advancing women in trade unions. Ten
Conference, 107th Session, Geneva, 2018, p. 3. things trade unions can do to promote gender balance (Brussels,
3 SDG 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and 2014).
girls”; SDG Goal 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable 26 ILO: Closing the gender pay gap.
economic growth, full and productive employment and decent 27 Ibid.
work for all”. 28 ETUC Resolution: Recommendations for improving gender
4 Australian Government: The business case for gender equality balance in trade unions. Adopted at the Executive Committee
(Canberra, Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality on 9 March 2011,
Agency, March 2013). EC191_Gender_Equality_Resolution_FINAL_EN_2.pdf
5 McKinsey Global Institute: Delivering through diversity (2017), 29 ETUC: Equality Survey 2018. Brussels, ETUC, 2018. 30 ILO: A global snapshot, p. ix.
insights/delivering-through-diversity [accessed 21 Dec. 2018]. 31 Ibid., p. 4.
6 J. Visser, S. Hayter and R. Gammarano: Trends in collective 32 ILO: A global snapshot.
bargaining coverage: Stability, erosion or decline, Issue Brief 33 Ibid., p. 12.
No. 1, Labour Relations and Collective Bargaining (Geneva, ILO, 34 Ibid.
2015). 35 ILO: Social dialogue and tripartism.
7 ILO: Social dialogue and tripartism. A recurrent discussion on 36 Britwum, Douglas and Ledwith: “Women, gender and power in
the strategic objective of social dialogue and tripartism, under trade unions”.
the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair 37 ILO: Closing the gender pay gap.
Globalization, 2008 (Geneva, 2018), para. 92. 38 J. Timm: “How unions help moms take maternity leave”, in
8 J. Pillinger and N. Wintour: Collective bargaining and gender The Atlantic, 29 Oct. 2018,
equality (Newcastle, Agenda, 2018); J. Pillinger, V. Schmidt and N. archive/2018/10/unions-maternity-leave/574084/ [accessed 21
Wintour: Negotiating for gender equality, Issue Brief No. 4, Labour Dec. 2018].
Relations and Collective Bargaining (Geneva, ILO, 2016). 39 A brochure, the database of the 100 good practices and
9 Women perform 76.2 per cent of the total amount of unpaid illustration videos are available on the Gender Equality Toolkit
care work. See ILO: Care work and care jobs for the future of website: [accessed 21 Dec.
decent work (ILO, Geneva, 2018). 2018].
10 A. Muller: For a better governance through national social 40 The Code of Conduct can be seen at
dialogue institutions: A global overview (regions, G20 and BRICS) wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilo-hanoi/
(Geneva, ILO, forthcoming). documents/publication/wcms_421220.pdf.
11 L. Briskin and A. Muller: Promoting gender equality through 41 Pillinger, Schmidt and Wintour: Negotiating for gender
social dialogue: Global trends and persistent obstacles (Geneva, equality; J. Pillinger: Bargaining for equality: How collective
ILO, 2011). bargaining contributes to eliminating pay discrimination between
12 ILO: The Global Wage Report 2018/19: What lies behind women and men performing the same job or job of equal value
gender pay gaps (Geneva, 2018). (Brussels, ETUC, 2014); Briskin and Muller: Promoting gender
publications/books/WCMS_650553/lang--en/index.htm equality through social dialogue.
13 D. S. Cobble: Gender equality and labor movements: Toward a 42 Global Deal: Building trust in a changing world of work, p. 31.
global perspective (Washington, DC, Solidarity Center, 2012). 43 Pillinger, Schmidt and Wintour: Negotiating for gender
14 ILO: A global snapshot: Women leaders and managers in equality.
employers’ organizations, ACT/EMP Working Paper No. 17 44 Ibid.
(Geneva, May 2017). 45 These models of gender-responsive bargaining are described
15 Briskin and Muller: Promoting gender equality through social in more detail in Pillinger and Wintour: Collective bargaining and
dialogue. gender equality.
16 A. O. Britwum, K. Douglas and S. Ledwith: “Women, gender 46 ILO: Closing the gender pay gap.
and power in trade unions”, in S. Mosoetsa and M. Williams 47 Ibid.
(eds): Labour in the global South: Challenges and alternatives for 48 Institute for the Equality of Women and Men: Checklist:
workers (Geneva, ILO, 2012), pp. 41–64. Gender neutrality in job evaluation and classification (Brussels,
17 ILO: World Employment Social Outlook: Trends for women 2010).
2017 (Geneva, 2017). 49 See Public Services International: Achieving equal pay and
18 ILO: The Global Wage Report 2018/19. decent work in Peru’s water sector (2018),
19 ILO: World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for women org/en/achieving-pay-equity-and-decent-work-perus-water-
2018 – Global snapshot (Geneva, 2018), p. 10. The report notes sector. See also ILO: Equidad salarial y trabajo decente en la
that “the difference in access to decent work opportunities empresa pública del Agua EPSEL – Perú (2015) (in Spanish),
between men and women is a major obstacle in global efforts
to achieve a more equitable and inclusive labour market, and lang--en/index.htm and Aplicación de Convenios OIT sobre
is expected to remain so in the coming years, unless additional equidad salarial y trabajo decente en la empresa pública del Agua
efforts are made to address the persistent gender gaps” and that EPSEL – Perú (2015) (in Spanish),
“reducing gender gaps in the labour market therefore requires events/WCMS_570700/lang--en/index.htm.
comprehensive measures, tailored specifically to women” (p. 12).
20 World Economic Forum: The Global Gender Gap Report 2017
(Geneva, 2017).
21 Pillinger, Schmidt and Wintour: Negotiating for gender
22 ILO: Women in business and management: Gaining
momentum, ACT/EMP (Geneva, 2015).


50 BusinessEurope, European Centre of Employers and 66 ILO: Women and men in the informal economy: A statistical
Enterprises (CEEP), European Association of Craft, Small and picture, 3rd edn (Geneva, ILO, 2018); ILO: Transition to formality:
Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME) and ETUC: Framework The critical role of social dialogue, Dialogue in Brief No. 1
Agreement on Parental Leave (Revised), 18 June 2009. (Geneva, Mar. 2017).
51 European Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 67 ILO: Women and men in the informal economy.
implementing the revised Framework Agreement on Parental 68 R204 notes that “the competent authority should make use
Leave concluded by BusinessEurope, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC of tripartite mechanisms with the full participation of the most
and repealing Directive 96/34/EC (text with EEA relevance). representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, which
52 Pillinger: Bargaining for equality. should include in their rank, according to national practice,
53 Tarifvertrag T-Zug, IG Metall, Bezirk Baden-Württemberg and representatives of membership-based organizations of workers
Verband der Metall- und Elektroindustrie Baden-Württemberg and economic units in the informal economy” (para. 6).
(Südwestmetall), signed in Stuttgart, 5 Feb. 2018. 69 S. J. Schurman and A. E. Eaton: Trade union organizing in
54 For an overview of agreements in Australia, see M. Baird, L. the informal economy: A review of the literature on organizing
McFerran and I. Wright: “An equality bargaining breakthrough: in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Western,
Paid domestic violence leave”, in Journal of Industrial Relations, Central and Eastern Europe (Washington DC, Solidarity Center,
Vol. 56, No. 2, Apr. 2014, pp. 190–207; J. Aeberhard-Hodges and 2012). Good examples include organizing informal workers and
L. McFerran: “An International Labour Organization instrument promoting social dialogue between SEWA and the global union
on violence against women and men at work: The Australian IUF.
influence”, in Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2018, 70 A. E. Eaton, S. J. Schurman and M. A. Chen (eds): Informal
pp. 246–65. For an overview of developments in Europe, see workers and collective action: A global perspective (Ithaca, NY,
J. Pillinger: Safe at home, safe at work: Trade union strategies and London, Cornell University Press, 2017), p. 1.
to prevent, manage and eliminate work-place harassment and 71 Cited in Pillinger: Safe at home, safe at work, based on a case
violence against women (Brussels, ETUC, 2017). study prepared by ITF for ACTRAV.
55 UN Women and ILO: Addressing violence and harassment 72 Schurman and Eaton: Trade union organizing in the informal
against women in the world of work: A handbook (New York and economy.
Geneva, UN Women and ILO, forthcoming). 73 ILO: Inception report for the Global Commission on the Future
56 Pillinger: Safe at home, safe at work. See also UN Women and of Work (Geneva, 2017).
ILO: Addressing violence and harassment against women in the 74 The project is supported by the International Transport
world of work. Workers Federation project “Organising Informal Transport
57 BusinessEurope, ETUC, CEEP and UEAPME: Implementation Workers 2013–16”, co-financed by FNV Mondiaal. For further
of the European Autonomous Framework Agreement on information, see
Harassment and Violence at Work, final joint report by the 75 ILO: Transition to formality; A. E. Eaton, S. J. Schurman and
European social partners, adopted at the Social Dialogue M. A. Chen (eds): Informal workers and collective action: A global
Committee, 27 Oct. 2011 (Brussels, 2011). perspective (Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2017).
58 An example is the guidance drawn up by NHS Employers 76 ILO: Inception report for the Global Commission on the Future
in the UK on “menopause in the workplace”: see http://www. of Work. [accessed 21 77 ILO: Digital labour platforms and the future of work: Towards
Dec. 2018]. The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, decent work in the online world (Geneva, 2018); H. Johnston and
Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations C. Land-Kazlauskas: Organizing on demand: Representation,
(IUF) also passed a resolution on “Menstruation – A workplace voice, and collective bargaining in the gig economy, Conditions
and trade union issue” in 2017: IUF Resolutions adopted by the of Work and Employment Series No. 94 (ILO, Geneva, 2018); R.
27th Congress, Resolution No. 18, “Menstruation – A workplace Heeks: Decent work and the digital gig economy: A developing
and trade union issue”, IUF Congress, Geneva, 29 Aug.–1 Sep. country perspective on employment impacts and standards in
2017. online outsourcing, crowdwork, etc. (Geneva, ILO, 2017).
59 On the ITF “right to flush” campaign for informal workers, see 78 ILO: Inception report for the Global Commission on the Future of Work, p. 10.
workers-need-safe-access-to-toilets/ [accessed 21 Dec. 2018]. 79 OECD: Empowering women in the digital age (Paris, 2018).
60 Examples include the Worldwide Corporate Social 80 ILO: Addressing care for inclusive labour markets and gender
Responsibility Agreement signed by IndustriALL and PSI with equality, Global Commission on the Future of Work Issue Brief,
the energy company EDF, and the global framework agreement Cluster 2, “Bringing an end to pervasive global women’s inequality
between BP Paribas and the UNI global union, which goes further in the workplace” (Geneva, 2018).
than most in introducing paid parental leave, health insurance 81 ILO and Gallup: Towards a better future for women and work:
and measures to end harassment at work. In the garment sector, Voices of women and men (Geneva, 2017), p. 45.
measures addressing gender inequalities in the garment supply 82 L. Addati et al.: Care work and care jobs for the future of
chain have been introduced by Inditex and IndustriALL (2007 and decent work (Geneva, ILO, 2018).
2014) and Hennes and Mauritz GBC AB and IndustriALL and IF 83 In particular, the Freedom of Association and Protection
Metall (the Swedish union) (2015). of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87); the Right
61 ILO: Conclusions of the Tripartite Meeting of Experts to to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No.
promote decent work and protection of fundamental principles 98); the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100); the
and rights at work for workers in EPZs, Geneva, 21–23 Nov. 2017. Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention,
62 OECD: OECD due diligence guidance for responsible business 1958 (No. 111); the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour
conduct (Paris, OECD, 2018), p. 41. The guidance includes explicit Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144); the Workers with
reference to gender-related risks and impact as part of due Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156); the Home
diligence. Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177); and the Domestic Workers
63 OECD: OECD due diligence guidance for responsible business Convention, 2011 (No. 189).
64 Carrefour–UNI: Accord International pour la promotion du
dialogue social et de la diversité, et pour le respect des droits
fondamentaux au travail, signed 3 Oct. 2018.
65 The Global Deal is shortly to publish a separate thematic brief
on informal work, which provides more detailed information about
the role of social dialogue and other instruments to support the
transition to the formal economy.



The Global Deal is a multi-stakeholder partnership with the objective of addressing challenges in the
global labour market so as to enable all people to benefit from globalisation. The fundamental idea
at the heart of the Global Deal is to highlight the potential of sound industrial relations and enhanced
social dialogue as a means to foster decent work, quality jobs and increased productivity and, by
extension, greater equality and inclusive growth. | [email protected] |

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