International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations

Volume 31 (2015)

Volume 31 (2015) / Issue 1

Sara Charlesworth, Fiona Macdonald, 'The Decent Work Agenda and the Advancement of Gender Equality: For Emerging Economies Only?' (2015) 31 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Issue 1, pp. 5–25


The International Labour Organization's Decent Work Agenda offers a valuable alternative to the traditional framing of most contemporary employment regulation. It moves beyond the standard employment relationship to include workers in non-standard employment and the attainment of gender equality has a central place, illustrated in the ILO's 2009 campaign around 'gender equality at the heart of decent work'. While most OECD countries have endorsed the Decent Work Agenda (DWA), few have taken it up at the domestic level, apparently seeing it as something of benefit to emerging economies only. Our article draws on interviews with key government, employer, union and civil society stakeholders in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and an analysis of relevant policy documents to tease out this 'othering' of the DWA and how different understandings of gender (in)equality relate to views about its utility in the national context. We argue that assumptions that the DWA has little to offer developed economies represent a missed opportunity to rethink the gendered policy underpinnings of domestic employment regulation that are shaped by and contribute directly to gender inequality.

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ISSN: 0952-617X
ID: IJCL2015002