Promoting the rights of women at work and achieving equality between women and men have been fundamental principles underpinning the work of the International Labour Organization since its creation in 1919. ILO promotes gender equality, not only as a basic human right, but also as intrinsic to the global goals of decent work and poverty alleviation and as an instrument for a more inclusive globalization.
ILO's mandate to promote equality is enshrined in its Constitution and in a number of international labour standards. This commitment is also expressed in a series of resolutions on gender equality which have been adopted by the International Labour Conference. The most recent of these, adopted in 2004, concerns the promotion of gender equality, pay equity and maternity protection.
The ILO also seeks to fulfill the various United Nations commitments concerning gender equality, including the UN Charter itself, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In order to advance equality in the world of work, the ILO adopts a strategy of gender mainstreaming which promotes the gender dimension in all programmes and policies whilst also calling for gender-specific interventions to redress longstanding inequalities. In the Caribbean, the ILO has had to address a number of gender-based issues in employment, through research, training sessions, advocacy and capacity-building with its constituents. In the Tripartite Declaration and Plan of Action for Realizing the Decent Work Agenda in the Caribbean, adopted on 12 October 2008 at the ILO Tripartite Caribbean Employment Forum in Barbados, high-level representatives of governments and employers' and workers' organizations committed to "mainstreaming gender equality in national development policies and strategies."
Gender-specific interventions in the region have included:
Research conducted on workers' experiences of negotiating work and family responsibilities and the implications for gender equality and poverty in Trinidad and Tobago. The study was published as one in a series of country studies commissioned by the ILO's Conditions of Work and Employment Programme and entitled "Reconciling work and family: Issues and policies in Trinidad and Tobago" by Dr. Rhoda Reddock and Dr. Yvonne Bobb-Smith (2008).
Technical support provided to the Caribbean Association of Women Entrepreneurs
Research conducted on the situation of women entrepreneurs in three countries - Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname - and published in the form of a working paper entitled "Jobs, Gender and Small Enterprises in the Caribbean: Lessons from Barbados, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago (2001)".
Gender training for trade unionists has included specific activities for women unionists in Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as well as training on equality conventions and on how to deal with related issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace.
Support for the labour sector study contribution to the development of a National Gender Policy and Plan of Action for Trinidad and Tobago.
Consultations with representatives from a variety of Government Ministries, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and national and regional non-governmental organizations, as well as CARICOM and the United Nations agencies to validate sections of the training package on "Gender, Poverty and Employment" for its adaptation to the Caribbean context for its proposed use in the region.
Collaboration with UNIFEM on a Handbook for Women Workers’ Rights.