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WORLD OF WORK. 1996 Sep-Oct; (17):4-7.Despite expanded global female employment (45% of women aged 15-64 years are economically active), women still comprise 70% of the world's 1 billion people living in poverty. Moreover, women's economic activities remain largely confined to low-wage, low-productivity forms of employment. A report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), prepared as a follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and the World Summit for Social Development, identified discrimination in education as a central cause of female poverty and underemployment. Each additional year of schooling is estimated to increase a woman's earnings by 15%, compared to 11% for a man. At the workplace, women face inequalities in terms of hiring and promotion standards, access to training and retraining, access to credit, equal pay for equal work, and participation in economic decision making. In addition, even women in higher-level jobs in developing countries spend 31-42 hours per week in unpaid domestic activities. The ILO has concluded that increasing employment opportunities for women is not a sufficient goal. Required are actions to improve the terms and conditions of such employment, including equal pay for work of equal value, improved occupational safety and health, enhanced security in informal or atypical forms of work, guarantees of freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, and appropriate maternity protection and child care provisions. Finally, taxation and social welfare policies must be rewritten to accommodate the reality that women are no longer the dependent or secondary earner in families.
CHILDREN IN FOCUS. 1992 Jan-Mar; 4(1):8.Working class women have always been creative in developing methods of surviving when times get bad. Examples include: earning income from informal sector work, trading in foods stuffs and manufactured items, domestic work. They also alter their consumption patterns by cutting purchases and making do with less, and by planting kitchen gardens. Others relay on remittances from relatives who have migrated to developed nations. Most use multiple strategies to secure the well being of their children and family. These flexible behavior patterns are among the strengths of Caribbean working class women that allow them to deal the harsh realities of poverty. However these strengths have been turned around and used against these women by many governmental and international agencies. The fact that they are able to cope is used to support programs that only perpetuate the situation rather than helping these women to change their lives. These women are caught in a cycle of deprivation, powerlessness, acceptance of hardship, survival strategies, continuing exploitation and continuing deprivation. Because of the actions of such agencies there are 3 basic strategies that should be followed: (1) those designed to ensure day to day maintenance, (2) those designed to determine the elements necessary for longer term solutions, (3) those that challenge negative macroeconomic policies. Strategies must also be distinguished based on those that meet practical gender needs, and those that address strategic gender interests. The importance of this distinction can be seen in the austerity measures which have been central features of most adjustment policies. Policies must be formed in a holistic context that revolve around macro economic issues.