Decent Work & Economic Growth: Why It's Important for Developing Countries

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DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH : Why It's Important For Developing Countries  

According to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development; Decent Work and Economic Growth ranks at position 8. The goal incorporates two aspects;

  1. Decent work which means opportunities for everyone to get work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration as well as equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace as well as sustainable development.

  2. Economic Growth which refers to an increase in the amount of goods and services produced per head of the population over a period of time.

Quite a large number of people across the world are currently suffering from the agonizing effects of unemployment. The story remains unchanged. From Kibera, Kenya, to West Point Liberia, little children are sent out into the streets to beg for meals to put on their tables. Not necessarily because their parents love them any less but, because times are hard and it is easier to appeal to people’s sympathy for children as opposed to their desire to hire any more people in their firm. This in itself is a violation of Goal 8 which is to take immediate measures to stop forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and prohibit the worst forms of child labor including the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The second scenario takes shape in such a way that parents are employed, however, the proceeds from the employment are just not enough to sustain the family.  The father, being the head of the household and automatically the bread winner, opts for a job in one of the lavish estates in the city where he works as a security man. The wife, on the other hand, opts for a job on the other side of town as a domestic worker. Both their jobs are full time and time off is only available on the weekends. As the situation is, none can live with their children in the workplace, and therefore they leave their children to raise each other in a much cheaper estate. Where the eldest daughter plays mother ensuring that the younger ones are fed and properly cared for; a role that is already a burden to her as she is too young. The eldest son plays the role of father; he disciplines and protects the younger ones. A role he is not yet properly tasked to undertake. This poses a social challenge. According to statistics, as of 2015, more than 204 million people were dealing with unemployment, and nearly 2.2 billion people live below the U.S $2 poverty line.  

The situation is so bad that not even education makes a huge difference. Too many graduates are living off the street or undertaking illegal commence to earn a basic living.  Socially this poses a threat as an increasing number young people are falling into depression and resulting to suicide as a permanent way out of their temporary problems. The aims of goal no.8 are directly relevant to this by aiming at reducing the number of young people not in employment, providing education or training by 2020 and promoting policies that encourage productive activities, decent jobs, entrepreneurship and creativity and encouraging the growth of micro/small/medium enterprises as well as achieving greater economic productivity through diversification, technological improvement and innovation.

While working towards achievement of goal 8, it is entirely necessary that the idea of sustainability is placed at the forefront. To ensure that whatever steps are taken toward economic growth and the realization of the dream of decent work for all ensure that resources are used prudently putting into thought coming generations. Protection of the environment should also be championed with such actions as re-using, recycling and use of environmentally friendly materials. Implementation of policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and crafts as well as improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production.

Despite the fact that quite noticeable progress has been made in terms of employment, it still remains quite worrying that about 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labor market between the year 2016 and 2030. It is also necessary that gender equity and equality is upheld when it comes to employment. Women deserve equal opportunities as men in employment. They deserve equal pay as well as equal opportunities to rise. Abolition of ideas such as women’s work and men’s work will come in handy in making this a reality. Access to financial assets for all genders as well as strengthening the ability of domestic financial organizations to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance, and financial services for all people. Protection of women against sexual harassment at the workplace is also key.

Realization of decent work for all and economic growth is a step by step process involving key players in every sector. The dream cannot be realized in a day or a month but over a period of time. Most importantly it is quite important for the international community to support each other toward the realization of this goal by Increasing ‘Aid for Trade*’ support for developing countries (particularly the least developed). Respective governments should also act toward sustaining economic growth in line with national circumstances but to particularly achieve at least 7% GDP per annum in the least developed countries.


Written By: Wangeci Mathenge

Photography By: Nicholas Adtasi