G7 Summit

ILO Director-General warns G7 Summit on great divergence

In his statement to the G7 Summit in Germany, ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, says pandemic and conflict have widened divergence between industrialized and developing countries. Raises concern over inequalities within countries, including gender gaps.

Statement | Germany, 27 June 2022 | 27 June 2022
Chancellor, Excellencies,

Progress towards greater equity becomes more than ever urgent as the world is becoming rapidly more unequal under the impact of pandemic and conflict. And we know that current levels of inequity are the seed beds of future conflict.

There is, firstly, great, and growing, divergence between industrialized and developing countries.

While there has been significant recovery of incomes in the richer countries; yet 60% of the world’s population live in countries where labour income is still below pre-pandemic levels, with food and energy inflation making further inroads.

Then there is growing inequality within countries – not exclusively but not least in respect of gender.

In 2020 COVID effects destroyed 3.6 percent of women’s employment compared to 2.9 percent for men. In 2021 there were still 20 million fewer women in employment than before the pandemic, compared to 10 million for men.

That means that the gender gap in labour force participation stands at 25.3 percentage points, and the gender pay gap at about 20 per cent.

Think what that massive economic disempowerment of women in recent years amounts to in terms of avoidable waste and injustice, and then what can and must be done to bring improvements.

The point of departure surely needs to be making gender equity an explicit goal of public policy, rather than just a hoped-for consequence of the achievement of other goals.

And then a readiness to use, not just one single policy lever in isolation but several in combination.

For example, we know that education is crucial for gender equity. And yet even where girls and women outperform boys and men in learning, that frequently does not translate into equity in labour market outcomes.

So what else needs to be done? Three things in particular:
  • Firstly, and above all, division of care responsibilities and provision of care facilities. The pandemic has brutally made the case for investing in the care economy,but there was already an abundance of evidence of why shortcomings in care arrangements are the biggest single impediment to gender equity in our societies.
  • Secondly, the world of work remains a discriminatory and sometimes a hostile and dangerous place for women. Public policy measures including on wage transparency still need to be put in place to ensure equal pay for work of equal value. And I hope that others will follow the example of Italy and the UK, of Argentina and South Africa by ratifying the latest ILO Convention No. 190 to eradicate all violence and harassment at work.
  • And finally, women would benefit most from global action to extend universal social protection to the 53 percent of working people who have none. The Secretary General’s Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection, which he launched last September provides us with both means and opportunity to start that job.
Thank you.