ILO Gender Academy

The Gender Academy is a leading global event that is run over two weeks by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as well as UN Women and other UN agencies. It gathers gender equality advocates for the purpose of learning and discussing gender equality at work, decent work and sustainable economies. It provides a platform to -explore challenges and policies related to the promotion of gender equality in the world of work.

The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) was invited to participate in the Academy because of its capacity as a custodian of the health of workers in South Africa, and the role it plays in HIV in workplace programs. The NIOH is also in a process of developing a workplace gender policy, and is building capacity to support gender mainstreaming in - workplaces. This training therefore benefits NIOH by providing up to date knowledge and international experiences that can be adopted for the world of work in South Africa.

Dr Sophia Kisting, the Executive Director of NIOH and Ms Nosimilo Mlangeni, who works in the TB HIV in the workplace unit as a Medical Scientist (Public Health) attended the course on behalf of the NIOH. The course structure consisted of plenary sessions where all delegates participated, as well as breakaway elective sessions for delegates to choose from.

THEME: The main theme for this academy was ‘leaving no one behind’.

Theme experts from different countries and organizations and countries, with different educational backgrounds, unpacked various gender issues; the global progress made in overcoming gender inequalities and the way forward in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) regarding gender equity. The discussions looked at challenges on gender and economy; stereotypes; climate change; gaps that exist regarding education, women’s unemployment, labour market participation,  occupational status,  as well as the gender pay gap. The important role played by policies to bridge the gaps and to address inequalities was emphasized.

Figure 1: Gender Academy Participants

Experiences from countries such as Chile, Brazil, Honduras, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Iceland and most of the EU countries were shared with participants. These provided strategies and progress made in the said countries regarding gender equality, from policy to implementation. However, across the globe inequality between men and women is evidenced through the gender pay gap, violence and harassment in the world of work, climate change challenges and economic inequalities. 

Elective breakaway sessions covered various topics including HIV and the world of work, which brought attention to the fact that HIV is not yet over, and that the world of work has a huge role to play in meeting the 2030 SDG’s regarding HIV. Other sessions looked at gender issues in employment and labour market policies; Gender equality; gender mainstreaming and non-discrimination and equal pay, to mention a few.

All sessions provided valuable information, discussions and interactions with the intention of equipping delegates with practical guidance on what can be done at country level towards reaching gender equality. The subject of Gender is broad and requires a multidisciplinary team approach that will address all aspects which contribute towards gender equality and economic empowerment for

Figure 2: Dr Sophia Kisting (NIOH Executive Director) and Ms Nosimilo Mlangeni (NIOH HIV TB Unit) attending a networking cultural evening event.