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Series:

Christine Verschuur

Abstract

Women in agriculture play a particularly important role in the economy. But their work—as peasants and as agricultural wage earners—their knowledge, their place in agricultural systems of production and their contribution to global prosperity have only been recognised in recent years, or still lack significant recognition. With changes in systems of production that are related to globalisation, the marginalisation and the workload of women in agriculture has often increased due to the perpetuation of an unequal sexual division of work in agriculture, and due to unequal access to the workforce and to agricultural inputs, technologies, credit schemes and land. One of the main constraints faced by female peasants and agricultural wage earners is the continuous and increasing reproductive work, which rests disproportionately on the most excluded women.

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Edited by Christophe Gironde and Gilles Carbonnier

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Juliette Alenda-Demoutiez, Abena Asomaning Antwi, Elvire Mendo and Zrampieu Sarah Ba

Abstract

In West Africa, the right of access to universal social security is far from being respected. International institutions and African governments have been mobilising for several years to fight this phenomenon. In a role that has evolved over the years, the International Labour Organization (ilo) provides technical and financial support to countries in this regard. How and why does the ilo intervene in protecting the health of populations in West Africa? For this institutional study, the methodology is based on a literature review focused on the history of the role of the ilo in the protection of healthcare in West Africa, specifically in Ghana and Senegal. We show the ilo’s involvement since the 1990s for two main reasons: firstly, the lack of access to healthcare in countries with a specific labour form; secondly, the rejection of the idea of social protection by dominant players on the international scene, leading to criticism following the structural adjustment programmes. In the contexts of Ghana and Senegal, both of which have experienced transitions from community-based health mechanisms to universal health coverage, we explain that the ilo has several ways to intervene—technically, institutionally, and financially. An important outcome is the revelation that the vision of the ilo with regard to health protection is systemic, articulating alternative ways to address social protection for the informal economy compared to other international organisations. But this approach is understated considering the dire situation in Africa and the need to improve access to healthcare and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Gilles Carbonnier and Christophe Gironde

Abstract

As the International Labour Organization (ilo) celebrates its centenary, its founding precept remains as relevant as ever: the main breeding grounds for threats to peace are the injustices and unequal opportunities that result from ongoing economic transformation. The moral idea that forged the ilo still lies at the heart of the international efforts for peace and development driving the Agenda for Humanity, the Agenda for Sustainable Development and the consensus on the need for inclusive growth that will ‘leave no one behind’.

This introductory chapter explains the rationale behind the 11th special issue of International Development Policy, which addresses questions around the ilo’s capacity for action and its effectiveness, the relevance of its programmes and ability to adapt to a world of work undergoing profound change. The volume of thirteen chapters highlights the tensions that constitute the ilo and its action, the changing and different environments in which the Organization operates, and the initiatives taken by the ilo to respond to these challenges. The need for adaptation is especially pronounced today in view of the acceleration of technological developments and radical changes in the organisation of employment and work, and the consequent impact on social protection systems.

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Edited by Christophe Gironde and Gilles Carbonnier

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Velibor Jakovleski,, Scott Jerbi and Thomas Biersteker

Abstract

The International Labour Organization (ilo) has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to changing conditions throughout its long history. At its centenary, the ilo must once again respond to evolving circumstances and find new ways to engage state and private actors participating in an interconnected global economy where labour standards continue to be violated and where work itself is undergoing significant transformations. This chapter explores recent efforts by the ilo’s leadership to reassert the organisation’s role in broader global policy contexts. Part 1 presents the concept of institutional layering in order to understand better the agents of change and the structures in which they operate. The three sections that follow demonstrate institutional layering across three core dimensions of global governance—actors, rules, and mechanisms—in the period since 1998. The chapter concludes that the ilo’s current governance practices have mixed prospects for the organisation’s role in a changing governance landscape. New layers of soft law rules and flexible governance mechanisms can potentially augment the ilo’s global standing moving forward. Its lack of representativeness and its continuing engagement of new actors, however, demand further formal changes to the ilo’s institutional apparatus.

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Edward van Daalen and Karl Hanson

Abstract

After wwii the International Labour Organization (ilo) slowly but surely developed a ‘two plank’ approach to child labour, aimed at harmonising the need to protect children who do work, with the long-term goal of abolishing all forms of child labour. During the 1990s the ‘two plank’ approach, which included the regulation and humanisation of children’s work, gradually evolved into a more singular approach aimed only at the full eradication of all child labour, starting with the ‘worst forms’. Based on an analysis of the relevant legal and policy documents produced by the ilo and other international Organizations, completed with in-depth interviews with key informants, we examine the internal and external developments that made the ‘abolitionist’ approach now the only perspective that shapes the ilo’s child labour policies. We conclude that, after a century of ilo child labour policy, the intermediate objective of improving children’s working conditions is now just as relevant as it was before the turn away from the ‘two plank’ approach. For the ilo to shift its position at this time, it needs to reach out to the research community, international development actors as well as local governments and social movements to develop locally relevant, evidence-based policies for dealing with the diversity of children’s work in the world’s fast changing formal and informal economies.

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Sandrine Kott

Abstract

This contribution analyses, from a historical perspective, the ways in which the International Labour Organization has been able to affirm and fulfil the mission entrusted to it in 1919: to represent the worlds of labour and promote social justice in a universal way. It shows that, from its inception, the Organization has been locked in a fundamental contradiction between the promise of social justice and the decommodification of labour that this promise expresses, on the one hand, and the Organization’s role as a social agent of economic globalisation, on the other. This tension increased after the Second World War, in the context of the Cold War and decolonisation.

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Edited by Christophe Gironde and Gilles Carbonnier

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Kees van der Ree

Abstract

This chapter explores the nexus between climate change and jobs. For the International Labour Organization (ilo), the relevance of climate change and low carbon development has not always been evident. Member states and social partners have long been reluctant to include the transition to low carbon economies in the programme of work and commit resources to it. But in recent years, environmental issues have become a policy priority among ilo member states and social partners. Why, then, is climate change now more relevant than ever for the world of work? What are the current and forecasted employment and social implications of climate change and the policies for adaptation and mitigation? How can the distributional impact of the move to a low-carbon society be better understood and managed? In this respect, how relevant is the concept of ‘green jobs’? What policy approach has emerged within the ilo despite initial resistance and disagreement among constituents? Finally, what role could the ilo play in the future to promote social justice in the transition?