UN officials stress decent work and social protection measures to fight poverty

20 September 2010

Two senior United Nations officials today stressed the need for the creation of decent jobs and improved social protection measures to cushion the most vulnerable people against the effects of unemployment as the world strives to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at a time of slow global economic recovery.

Two senior United Nations officials today stressed the need for the creation of decent jobs and improved social protection measures to cushion the most vulnerable people against the effects of unemployment as the world strives to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at a time of slow global economic recovery.

Juan Somavia, the Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), said labour was not just a means of production, but a means for personal worth, social dignity and family cohesion.

“It makes sense to put jobs at the heart of microeconomic policy,” Mr. Somavia told a panel discussion on accelerating the achievement of MDGs through decent work, organized by ILO on the sidelines of the MDG summit, which got under way at UN Headquarters in New York today.

The gathering in the General Assembly is an opportunity for the international community to take stock of the progress so far towards the MDGs – which include slashing poverty, combating disease, fighting hunger, protecting the environment and boosting education – and to determine what else needs to be done to reach the Goals by their target date of 2015.

Mr. Somavia pointed out that the original concept of the MDGs did not put enough emphasis on the role that the creating jobs could play in facilitating the achievement of the Goals. The original model “lacked the weaving factor that linked all the MDGs,” he added.

Speaking at the same panel discussion, Michelle Bachelet, the newly-appointed Executive Director of the UN gender entity (UN Women), said it was essential to link decent work with social protection measures to expedite the achievement of the MDGs.

“We need to continue growing the economy, but a job [alone] does not put you out of poverty,” Ms. Bachelet said, emphasizing the need for training for better jobs and better terms of employment.

“If you have people with better health, better housing, better education, then you will have better workers,” Ms. Bachelet added.

The ILO estimates that the rate of unemployment has gone up by more than 30 million people worldwide since 2007. The increase in developed economies has been particularly severe, but the crisis also has hit emerging markets and developing economies.

 

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