Women demand education, dignity and decent work, by Cristina Manzano

End the year with a new attack by the Taliban regime on the dignity and freedom of Afghan women, while the world attends stunned, outraged, but without leaving. If a few months ago girls over the age of 12 were prevented from returning to their secondary classes, todayThey just banned the education of women in university. A systematic and premeditated violation of their fundamental rights.

in iran, women have been taking to the streets for weeks to also claim the freedom stolen by the political and religious intransigence of their rulers; to protest against the lack of expectations, beyond the men around them.

While many women fight for something as basic as their access to education and certain minimum rights, others do it because their work achieves a minimum of dignity. In an environment complicated by the combined impacts of the pandemic, inflation and war in Ukraine, 2022 has seen progress and setbacks in the battle for the so-called decent work, that which is defined by the end of the pay gap, violence or sexual harassment and informality; also to achieve a better balance in the burden of care. One who aspires to end new forms of forced labor and slavery. One figure is enough: it is estimated that 25 million people in the world are victims of labor exploitation.

The controversial World Cup Qatar exposed the dire conditions of thousands of migrant workers who have built their brilliant infrastructures. Lots of noise, little overall reaction. It also served as a reminder – again, with little consequence – of the kafala system, rooted in the Gulf and other Arab countries such as Lebanon or Jordan, which establishes a relationship of extreme dependence and gives rise to all kinds of abuse by employers on employees. .personal. Construction and domestic employment are two of the sectors where this practice is common.

On the light side, and much closer, Spain approved at the turn of the summer unemployment benefit for domestic workers. The President of the Government announced it at the start of the political course. What he didn’t say was that he was doing it because of a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which found that our country discriminates against domestic workers by denying them that right. . This is good news for more than half a million women who work in the sector, even if the 30% of them who are not affiliated with Social Security will not be able to benefit from it. A strongly feminized sector, traditionally precarious and in which many workers are immigrants. Thus, Spain has finally joined the group of only 36 countries that have ratified the International Labor Organization’s Convention 189, which regulates domestic work, in force since 2013. It has also ratified Convention 177, which regulates the working from home and 190, on violence and harassment in the workplace.

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On the European side, in February the Commission presented a proposal for a Directive on sustainability due diligence. Intended for large companies, it is a question of preventing, stopping or mitigate the negative impacts of its activity on the environment and human rights (child labor, labor exploitation, etc.), including also third-country companies that are part of their supply chains. The proposal still needs to be debated in the European Parliament, after which member states will have two years to transpose it. France and Germany already have laws to this effect. Spain has started the procedures for a draft law, it would be important, as defended by the Responsible Business Platform, not to wait for the obligation that will come from Europe to have its own legislation.

The fact that these issues are still debated in the most advanced group of countries in the world in the defense of collective rights speaks volumes about the challenges that the international community will have to face, in 2030, SDG 8, which aspires to decent work for all. An objective that particularly affects the most vulnerable and women. Hopefully 2023 will continue to see further advancements in this area. Good holiday.


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