A woman sits on the sidewalk with a boy besides her.

ILO’s WESO Trends 2021 projections highlight the danger of a COVID-19 labour market legacy of increased geographic and demographic inequality, rising poverty and fewer decent jobs.

A woman sits at her desk in front of a computer as two kids read together on a couch nearby.

The new reality, due to the pandemic, has left many mothers scrambling. With schools and day-cares closed, many were forced to leave their jobs or cut the hours they worked. New IMF estimates confirm the outsized impact on working mothers, and on the economy. Within the world of work, women with young children have been among the biggest casualties of the economic lockdowns. Three countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain—illustrate the varied impact of the pandemic on workers.

man and woman working in hardware shop

Family businesses employ 60% of the world’s workforce and contribute over 70% of global GDP. And collectively they have immense financial resources to invest in the Sustainable Development Goals. UNCTAD’s new Family Businesses for Sustainable Development initiative harnesses their potential to be a force for good and help build a transformative and sustainable future. 

man with wheelchair at workstation

Jordanian Omar Abu Noa’aj has struggled to find work for years due to his physical disability. Last year, an ILO employment centre helped him secure his first formal job at a garment factory, giving him a new sense of independence and purpose. A year on since his employment, Abu Noa’aj says his life has been transformed. “Before I started working, I used to see people going to work in the morning and say: ‘What a great feeling that must be.’ Now, I know what this feeling is like,” Abu Noa’aj said.

A woman wearing a face mask wipes a phone at an office desk.

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched nearly every aspect of the world of work, from the risk of transmission in the workplace to occupational safety and health (OSH) risks due to the measures used to mitigate the spread of the virus. Shifts to new forms of working arrangements, such as teleworking, also posed potential risks, including psychosocial risks and violence. The World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 examines how the current crisis demonstrates the importance of strengthening these OSH systems, including occupational health services, at both the national and undertaking level.

A woman wearing a helmet looks at her phone.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, demand grew considerably. The government deemed delivery work as essential, next to key activities such as public health and transportation, among others. ILO features the challenges faced by digital platform workers, who have been contributing greatly during this crisis. It sounds nice to take part in essential work, but decent work would be better. Treated by the companies as independent contractors, most of us have no social protection benefits, such as pension coverage, health, or insurance plans.

worker in Nigeria

It has been an immensely challenging year for governments, which have been scrambling to contain the spread of the virus while also managing the economic fallout, supporting workers, and ensuring continuity of schooling for children. At the same time, the climate crisis has not gone away, nor has the soaring gap between rich and poor. In fact, these existing challenges have been magnified by the pandemic. Despite the gloom, there’s some good news; with the right choices, governments can address all of these crises at once, by making the transition to low-carbon, green economies. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that the move to low-carbon, greener economies has the potential to create 60 million jobs by 2030.

The road transport industry has been badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Truck drivers are keeping global freight chains moving but have found themselves the victims of COVID-19 restrictions. Urgent action by governments, social partners and road transport supply chain parties is critical, to address the industry’s decent work and liquidity concerns.

Illustration of the silhouette of people with floating gear trains and light bulbs.

Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race, or socio-economic status. Appropriate support, accommodation and acceptance allow those on the Spectrum to enjoy full participation in society. The breakdown of support systems due to COVID-19 exacerbated the obstacles that persons with autism face. We must ensure that these disruptions do not result in rollbacks of the rights of persons with autism, including the right to work. On World Autism Awareness Day we celebrate diversity and promote the rights of persons with autism.

women working with electrical components

The ‘Barefoot story’ is an engrossing tale: women battling the odds to better themselves in order to help their families and their communities by way of solar energy. The first Barefoot College was established in India in 1972 to train illiterate or semi-illiterate women, and to provide them with the basic skills to be solution-providers in their rural communities. The initiative has now spread to ninety-three countries around the world. The ‘Barefoot’ Solar engineers of Sierra Leone, supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are part of it.

portrait of young man on 50 for Freedom campaign poster

Fifty countries have shown their commitment to eradicate contemporary forms of slavery by ratifying the ILO Forced Labour Protocol. The ratifications have met an initial target set by the 50 for Freedom campaign, which urges governments to take action on forced labour. Sudan became the fiftieth country to ratify.

laptops seen from above

Digital labour platforms have increased five-fold worldwide in the last decade according to the ILO’s latest World Employment and Social Outlook 2021 report, presenting opportunities and challenges for workers and businesses and a need for international policy dialogue.

COVID-19 has shown that health, decent work and environmental sustainability are strongly linked. The principles of the circular economy – repair, re-use and recycle are key to achieving sustainable supply chains and can help promote decent work. 

A woman smiles from behind her cubicle.

The World Day of Social Justice (20 Feb) supports efforts to achieve sustainable development, poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, and access to social well-being and justice for all. As the digital economy transforms the world of work, the global pandemic has also exacerbated the growing digital divide within and across developed and developing countries. This year’s observance aims at highlighting what’s needed to overcome the digital divide, provide decent work opportunities, and protect labour and human rights in the modern era of digital technologies.