Brussels, 2 March 2007 (ITUC OnLine): Pregnancy tests as a precondition
for employment, dismissal of pregnant women, inadequacy and
non-application of the right to paid maternity leave, women in atypical
sectors deprived of maternity rights, insufficient health care for
mothers and young children… the reproductive function of working women
remains a flagrant source of inequality and gender discrimination. In
the run up to International Women’s Day, on 8 March, the ITUC calls on
governments, employers and trade union organisations to make maternity
protection an action priority.
Although the legislation in many countries guarantees health care,
employment protection and paid maternity leave, the gap between the law
and rights in practice is often huge. Women in atypical work, such as
informal economy activities, agriculture, home-based work, domestic work
or even part-time employment are the most vulnerable, being all too
often excluded from any form of social or employment protection.
Only a small minority of countries (13) has ratified ILO Convention 183
on maternity protection, adopted six years ago. The ITUC is therefore
calling on the governments and all those concerned to take every step
towards the ratification and implementation of this Convention, together
with accompanying Recommendation 191, the provisions of which include 18
weeks paid maternity leave. The ITUC insists on the need to ensure that
the law protects all women, including those working in atypical sectors,
whose numbers are ever increasing with the deregulation of labour
markets throughout the world.
“The fundamental challenge is not only to meet the individual needs of
mothers but to recognise the value of the essential social function they
assume for the benefit of society as a whole. Maternity is too often
perceived as an obstacle to productivity and the accumulation of profit.
And yet recognition should be given to the considerable contribution
made by women, through their reproductive function, to the renewal of
populations and thus the labour force,” says Guy Ryder, ITUC general
The ITUC calls on governments, employers and unions to work toward
valuing the fundamental social role assumed by women and to take
measures to promote the involvement of both parents in bringing up and
taking care of their children.
In the run up to International Women’s Day, on 8 March, the ITUC is
releasing a new video portrait on maternity protection in the informal
economy. You can view the video portrait of Salissa, a new mother and
market gardener from the outskirts of Ouagadougou, at:
In addition to this new video, the ITUC has also published a 12-page
special report on organising the informal economy in Burkina Faso, which
you can read here.
Founded on 1 November 2006, the ITUC represents 168 million workers in
153 countries and territories and has 304 national affiliates.
For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2
224 0204 or ++32 476 621 018.