Towards Formality: Promoting the Rights of Women and Men Workers in Arab Countries
This paper applies a gender equality and workers’ rights perspective to the study of informal employment in the Arab region. It highlights key outcomes of a joint regional initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) on “Gender Equality and Workers’ Rights in the Informal Economies of Arab States”. It summarizes insights on the nature of employment in the informal economies of the region. The paper looks at informality of employment as a deficit in social and economic rights. It emphasizes the centrality of the right to work, the right to social protection, and the right to organize. Rights more specifically relevant to gender equality include equal pay for equal value of work, protection from discrimination, equal treatment of men and women workers in fulfilling family responsibilities, and maternity benefits. Accordingly, the analysis draws on the principles put forth in key human rights and labour standards to provide a way forward, and is informed by the framework of the capability approach.