Boys or Girls, Does it Matter at Work?

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Around the world, different people do different types of jobs. Some people work as farmers bringing food to our communities, and some work as teachers in our schools. Some other people work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), creating vaccines and sending rockets to space. Each job has a set of tasks and skills which you can learn and develop as you grow up. 

However, opportunities are not equal around the world. In some countries, access to decent and sustainable jobs is not available to everyone. Because of this, the UN has decided one of its goals is to create economic growth around the world, creating jobs for all, driving progress and improving living standards. 


What Does "Decent Work" Mean?

Decent work means equal opportunities for everyone to get a productive job, with a fair wage and a good working environment. 

For example: 

  • a fair wage that is enough to pay for living expenses
  • a good working environment with access to facilities such as toilets and drinking water
  • a place where you feel welcomed and safe 


Thinking Cap On: 

Imagine you are at school, and only one team can access the school gym to practice basketball. This team gets to practice their skills daily, while the other teams don't even use the gym. If the two teams were to challenge each other in a tournament, which group will be better prepared? Who has a better chance to win? Is it fair? 

What would you do to make it equal and fair for both teams?


Boys or Girls, Does it Matter at Work?

Unfairness also happens when two people who do the same job get paid less based on their gender rather than their skills. 

According to the UN, Men earn 12.5per cent more than women in 40 out of 45 countries with data. The global "gender pay gap", or difference between earned wages between men and women, stands at 23 per cent globally. Without decisive positive action, it will take another 68 years to achieve equal pay. 

This gender pay gap varies by country and even by company. The good news is more and more companies are now closing the gap, as your gender shouldn't matter when it comes to a job. Jobs and wages should only depend on your skills and your capacity to complete the work successfully. However, despite their increasing presence in public life, women continue to do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do.

What is it like for you at home? Do you help with chores around the house? Does your gender determine the kind of house chores/work you do? If so, why do you think this is, and what can you do to change that? 


Why Do Some People Have Better Jobs Than Others? 

One of the UN objectives for goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, is to substantially reduce the number of young people not in employment, education or training. 

This matters because access to education or training is often linked to the job opportunities you can get out there in the job market. Many jobs are skill-based, which means they require you to know how to do things a certain way. However, when people can't access education or training for these jobs, it becomes harder for them to work. Think again about the "Thinking Cap On" exercise. Lack of training leads to unfair conditions. 

In some countries, and even in some cities in the United States, access to education and training is limited. The lack of unavailable funding to provide good education and a history of economic underdevelopment of the area can lead to disadvantages and unemployment. 

According to the International Labor Organization, in 2018, the global working age-population, comprising women and men aged 15 years or older, was 5.7 billion. Out of these, 3.3 billion people, or 58.4 percent, were in employment, and 172 million were unemployed. 

These figures only tell us we need to do better globally to ensure everyone has access to sustainable and stable work. Paid work is a crucial driver of material well-being, economic security, equality of opportunity and human development. However, we still have a long way to go before reaching these conditions worldwide. 


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Thinking Cap On: 

Speak to your parents or adult siblings and family to understand the barriers they had when entering the job market. Was it easy to find a job? Did they have the training or access to training needed? What kind of skills did they need for their job?  

Think about what kind of work would like to do when the time comes, and build a Swot Analysis. SWOT Analysis is a tool to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that are to be expected in a project. Divide a page into 4 squares and consider what you do well (strengths) where you need to improve (weaknesses). These two are internal and unique to you. Use the other two squares to write what your goals are (opportunities) and what obstacles you face (threats). These two are external and unique to the city or country you are in. 

Share with your parents for guidance and start a conversation about your future work and economic growth and development.