1 Oct 2023

Equality at work was a key area of focus of a parliamentary roundtable that brought together 35 members of parliament from 23 countries on 22 June 2023. During the roundtable, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), MPs joined forces in a pledge to revitalize action to uphold women’s rights.
The roundtable was organized as part of the year-long Human Rights 75 Initiative to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Photo one: Participants at the June 2023 parliamentary roundtable reaffirmed the centrality of parliaments in leading a feminist policy agenda, including in the area of work. © Pierre Albouy/OHCHR.

Debates focused on the centrality of parliaments in advancing women’s rights to political participation, decent work and education on an equal basis with men, as laid down in the UDHR and codified within the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Specifically, participants looked into how these rights are interconnected, as well as how existing gender-based discrimination and inequalities in these three areas intersect with other forms of inequality and grounds for discrimination. During the discussions, participants reaffirmed how women’s equal access to decent work and equal pay are fundamental elements in meaningfully redressing structural inequalities and reaching the SDG targets on time while highlighting the detrimental role of stereotypes and traditional gender roles, which often lead to limited access to social protection and lower pay for women.
Gender-based segregation in the workforce, particularly in care-related roles, was highlighted as a key factor in perpetuating inequality. Participants highlighted that motherhood is still considered a disadvantage for the workforce, being a main contributor to the gender pay gap, whereas fatherhood is largely rewarded. Focusing on parliaments, participants discussed the need to develop and implement strategies that mainstream gender sensitivity at all stages of the legislative process, including through gender-responsive budgeting.
Against this backdrop, parliamentarians participating in person and online agreed unanimously on a set of concrete pledges and recommendations, which will bring the voice of parliaments to the Human Rights 75 High-Level Event, scheduled for December 2023.
Specifically, with a view to women’s equal access to decent work, parliamentarians pledged to:
i) Promote ratification of the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) of the International Labour Organization and introduce or strengthen legislation to ensure access to social protection for women employed in the informal sector
ii) Introduce or strengthen legislation to ensure equal pay for work of equal value.
You can access the full text of the endorsed pledges via the following link
The roundtable debates reflected many of the points raised during the High-level Roundtable on Gender Equality in the Health and Care Workforce, organized as part of the Fifth Global Forum on Human Resources for Health (HRH) in April 2023. At that event, the IPU emphasized the need to 1) ensure equality in law, so that social protection, public services and infrastructure are gender-responsive, 2) address gender-based violence against women in the workplace, and 3) address the unequal share of unpaid household and care responsibilities as well as the gender pay gap.

Photo two: The adoption of the milestone 2022 Kigali Declaration during the 145th Assembly of the IPU. © IPU/Parliament of Rwanda

The roundtable also served as a complement to the IPU’s milestone 2022 Kigali Declaration, in which parliamentarians committed to advance efforts in transforming their parliaments into true gender-sensitive institutions through a concrete set of policy actions that enable parliaments to address structural discrimination and deliver for all. Among the five key policy actions, parliamentarians agreed to advance equality in caring responsibilities among men and women and set an example by undertaking 50% of the daily care work for their families, regardless of whether they are male or female MPs.