ILO Conventions

The ILO Conventions cover a wide area of social and labour issues including basic human rights, minimum wages, industrial relations, employment policy, social dialogue, social security and other issues. ILO Conventions concerning gender-specific issues have a long history. As early as 1919, at the year when the ILO was founded, the Organization adopted the first two Conventions on women (No.3 on maternity protection, and No.4 on night work for women). Convention No.3 was several times revised – for the latest time in the year of 2000 (Convention No. 183).

In the present day society it has been argued that protective measures for women can have a negative impact by denying them entry into certain jobs and contributing to a gender-segregated labour market. In the case of maternity protection, these measures are necessary to protect the reproductive role of women. However the maternity benefits increase the cost of employing women and therefore discourage their employment. This is why the revised variant of the Convention on maternity protection places an emphasis on the payment of maternity benefits from social security funds and restricts the circumstances in which an employer can be held individually liable to pay them (Convention 183, article 6).

  • 1919 Maternity Protection Convention (#3)
  • 1919 Night Work Women Convention (#4)
  • 1951 Equal Remuneration Convention (#100)
  • 1958 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (#111)
  • 1965 Workers with Family Responsibilities Recommendation (#123)
  • 1975 UN International Women’s Year
  • 1976 – 1985 UN Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace
  • 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Kinds of Discrimination Against Women
  • 1981 Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention (#156)
  • 1994 Part-Time Work Convention (#175)
  • 1996 Home Work Convention (#177)
  • 1998 Job Creation in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Recommendation (#189)
  • 1999 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (#182)
  • 2000 Maternity Protection Convention, revised (#183)

In the early 1950s, emphasis shifted to the promotion of equality in employment between men and women, and, more recently, to recognition that equality implies sharing of family responsibilities between men and women.

Convention No.100 and Recommendation No.90, of 1951, laid down the guiding principles of equal remuneration for work of equal value regardless of sex. In 1958, Convention No. 111 and Recommendation No. 111 were adopted to establish the principle of non-discrimination on a number of grounds including sex, with regard to access to vocational training, access to employment, and terms and conditions of employment.

In 1965, Recommendation No.123 on Workers with family responsibilities was adopted, covering measures that should be taken to enable women workers to fulfil their various responsibilities harmoniously and without discrimination. Later, the conviction gained ground that any change in the traditional role of women should be accompanied by a change in men’s role and should be reflected in their greater participation in family and household duties: the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention No 156, and accompanying Recommendation No. 165, were adopted in 1981. These instruments apply to men as well as women with responsibilities for dependent children or other members of their immediate family and, are intended to facilitate the employment without discrimination as a result of existing private duties.

The Part-Time Work Convention No. 175 and Recommendation No. 182 adopted in 1994, aim at the equal treatment of full- and part-time workers, the latter consisting mainly of women. The Home Work Convention No. 177 and Recommendation No. 184, adopted in 1996, will contribute to improving the situation of millions of home-workers, a large majority of whom are women.

Convention No.182 and Recommendation No. 190, aiming at the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, also have a gender component, calling for account to be taken of the special situation of girls.

As it is seen in the table of the basic Conventions concerning gender issues all the ten countries of the region covered by the Subregional Office have ratified Conventions No. 100 (On Equal Remuneration) and 111 (On Discrimination in Employment and Occupation). The Russian Federation is the only country of the region that ratified another basic tool of the gender equality – Convention No. 156 on Workers with Family Responsibilities. The revised Maternity Convention (No. 183) has been recently ratified by the Republic of Belarus (2.10.2003 – it is not yet indicated in the table as the official date of the ratification will be the date of the registration of this fact in the ILO Headquarters).

Ratifications in the CIS