The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has released the 2015 Human Development Report. The report is entitled: Work for human development, and calls for equitable and decent work for all. In doing so, it encourages governments to look beyond jobs to consider the many kinds of work, such as unpaid care, voluntary, or creative work that are important for human development. The report suggests that only by taking such a broad view can the benefits of work be truly harnessed for sustainable development.
Fast technological progress, deepening globalization, aging societies and environmental challenges are rapidly transforming what work means today and how it is performed. This new world of work presents great opportunities for some, but also profound challenges for others.
The need for more inclusive and sustainable work opportunities was also emphasized by United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark who said:
Decent work contributes to both the richness of economies and the richness of human lives. All countries need to respond to the challenges in the new world of work and seize opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods.”
With better health and education outcomes and reductions in extreme poverty, 2 billion people have moved out of low human development levels in the last 25 years, the report says. Yet in order to secure these gains and galvanize progress, a stronger focus on decent work is needed.
830 million people are classified as working poor who live on under $2.00 a day. Over 200 million people, including 74 million youth, are unemployed, while 21 million people are currently in forced labour.
Human progress will accelerate when everyone who wants to work has the opportunity to do so under decent circumstances. Yet in many countries, people are often excluded from paid work, or are paid less than others for doing work of the same value”, said report lead author Selim Jahan.
Women do three out of every four hours of unpaid work
The report presents a detailed new estimate of the share of all work, not just paid work, between men and women. While women carry out 52 percent of all global work, glaring inequalities in the distribution of work remain.
Women are less likely to be paid for their work than men, with three out of every four hours of unpaid work carried out by women. In contrast, men account for two of every three hours of paid work. Since women often carry the burden of providing care services for family members, the report warns that this disparity is likely to increase as populations age.
When women are paid, they earn globally, on average, 24 percent less than men, and occupy less than a quarter of senior business positions worldwide.
Highly skilled workers and those with access to technology, including to the internet, have new opportunities in the types of work available and the way that work is done.Today, there are seven billion mobile phone subscriptions, 2.3 billion people with smart phones, and 3.2 billion with internet access. This has brought about many changes in the world of work – for example, the rise of e-commerce and the mass outsourcing of banking, ICT-support, and other services.
Despite new opportunities, however, more jobs are now becoming vulnerable and a wide digital divide remains, the report notes.
In 2015, 81 percent of households in developed countries have internet access, but only 34 percent in developing regions and 7 percent in the least developed countries have that access.
Many types of routine work, such as clerical jobs, are predicted to disappear or be replaced by computers, or have already disappeared, the report warns, while many more workers face other insecurities. According to the International Labour Organization, 61 percent of employed people in the world work without a contract, and only 27 percent of the world’s population is covered by comprehensive social protection.
The report calls on governments to formulate national employment strategies that take into account the many challenges emerging in the rapidly changing world of work. Sustainable work, opportunities both for present and future generations Public Health Workers in Liberia. The report therefore proposes a three-pronged action agenda:
- A New Social Contract between governments, society, and the private sector, to ensure that all members of society, especially those working outside the formal sector, have their needs taken into account in policy formulation.
- A Global Deal among governments to guarantee workers’ rights and benefits around the world.
- A Decent Work Agenda, encompassing all workers, that will help promote freedom of association, equity, security, and human dignity in work life.
Work, not just jobs or employment, is crucial for human progress: Of the world’s 7.3 billion people, 3.2 billion are in jobs, and many others engage in unpaid care, creative and voluntary work as well as other activities or prepare themselves as future workers.
The 2015 Human Development Report ‘Work for Human Development’ examines the links, both positive and negative, between work and human development in a rapidly changing world of work. Fast globalization, technological revolution, demographic transitions and many other factors are creating new opportunities, but also posing risks. The report examines how the benefits of this new world of work are not equally distributed, generating winners and losers.
The report argues for a broader notion of work, one that goes beyond the jobs framework, to confront both persistent challenges such as human deprivations, inequalities, unsustainability, and gender imbalances in paid and unpaid work – as well as emerging ones –erosion of jobs, skills gaps, climate change and others. It concludes with a series of policy recommendations on how to enhance human progress through promotion of workers’ rights and broader access to social protection.
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About the report:
The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2015 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications.
Download Human Development Report 2015 (pdf)
Helen Clark speech at the release of the report
Access to the Human Development Index Fact Sheet
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