8. ILO standard setting and other means of action
International labour Conventions and Recommendations play an important role in promoting equality because they represent an international and tripartite consensus on minimum standards. While these standards generally apply to both men and women workers, a number of them specifically address women workers' and gender equality rights, and should be respected and pursued in all ILO programmes. As already mentioned, these standards deal with equal remuneration, equality of opportunity and treatment between men and women in employment, maternity protection, workers with family responsibilities, and part-time and home work.
The concept of equality in employment does not imply that men and women are identical. Biological and social differences, as well as different needs, should be taken into account. The roles and positions of men and women differ to a great extent in any society and in a historical perspective. Their respective needs may vary accordingly. In most, if not all, societies, women have to fulfil specific roles as mothers, homemakers and providers of basic needs. This often implies that they have a weaker position as regards access to jobs and training, equal pay, and rights to land and other capital assets. To generate progress towards gender equity, these existing imbalances need to be addressed in the design of programmes and projects.
Standard setting and technical cooperation are both important elements in which the ILO contributes to attaining social justice. International labour standards define specific aims, means and approaches in social policy, whereas technical cooperation helps achieve social progress in practical terms. Technical cooperation, at the request of ILO member States, is therefore linked with the promotion of international labour standards and human rights, in a comprehensive and complementary approach.
Standard setting and technical cooperation must be based on systematic research and documentation. Thus the ILO is involved in numerous research programmes, and in compiling and analysing data on gender-related issues. This information is made available to ILO constituents and the public through publications, electronic databases, meetings, seminars and workshops.
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The ILO hopes that the information provided in this new ABC of women workers' rights and gender equality will further contribute to arousing interest in, and enhancing knowledge of, gender equality issues in the world of work, and will encourage those who feel discriminated against to defend their rights.
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