OREANDA-NEWS  Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, is happy that decent work is taken into account in the Sustainable Development Goals. The President’s foundation has published a book on global work and working conditions

Decent work is a key factor in reducing poverty and improving the wellbeing of families and stability of societies.

“Decent work that provides an adequate livelihood is an important part of people’s self-esteem”, President Tarja Halonen points out.

“Work brings the human perspective to the Sustainable Development Goals”, Halonen says.

The Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030, adopted last year are binding on all countries. These were preceded by the Millennium Development Goals. Halonen tells how enthusiastic she was about the Millennium Development Goals.

“However, they did not say anything about work.” The International Labour Organisation ILO proposed that work should be included in the goals. Finally, in 2008, work was included as a sub-goal but it gained little attention. Since then decent work has become one of the key priorities in international development cooperation. “Luckily work was now included in the preparation of the Sustainable Development Goals right from the beginning”, Halonen says.

According to the ILO definition, decent work means work that generates an adequate income, with social protection and protected rights. Employees are treated equally, they are free to express their opinions and participate in decision-making concerning them.

Sustainable Development Goal 8, decent work for all and sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, obliges all countries to ensure a sufficient livelihood and humane working conditions to the employees. According to ILO, 57% of people living in extreme poverty are of working age. A total of 327 million people live below the line for extreme poverty, USD 1.9 a day. At the same time 40 million people enter the labour market every year. Just for these people 470 million new jobs should be created by 2030.

Improving the livelihood generated by work would improve gender equality as well as the global food situation. According to the World Food Programme WFP, eight out of ten women participating in cultivation for food in Africa are women. Yet in many countries the opportunities of women to own the land they cultivate are much weaker than those of men.