“Economic growth should be a positive force for the whole planet. This is why we must make sure that financial progress creates decent and fulfilling jobs while not harming the environment. We must protect labour rights and once and for all put a stop to modern slavery and child labour. If we promote job creation with expanded access to banking and financial services, we can make sure that everybody gets the benefits of entrepreneurship and innovation.”
The world needs economic growth to ensure access to productive work and wages for all. Those at the bottom of the economic pyramid benefit the most with opportunities for safe work with fair pay. A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) report found that 65 out of 75 countries studied reduced multidimensional poverty levels significantly between 2000 and 2019. India recorded the largest reduction of people living in poverty, with 273 million people moving out of multidimensional poverty in that time period. Reduction in multidimensional poverty impacts many other indicators of wellbeing and quality of life, from access to healthcare, safe housing, clean food and water, medical treatment. It also improves the quality of life for socially disadvantaged groups as access to education and employment gender become more inclusive. All in all, it creates a virtuous cycle that benefits generations to come.
Economic growth doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment or human rights. With the right combination of knowledge, technology and partnerships, we can build a world where people can gainful employment without destruction of the world around us See the example of Samerth Charitable Trust in Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Their work in water management reduced outward migration in search of jobs and increased farmers’ earnings from their crops.
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth focuses on increasing opportunities for livelihoods and access to livelihoods for the millions who don’t have them. The targets within the Goal include sustainable economic growth, a global youth employment strategy, ending slavery, trafficking and child labour, protecting labour rights and more.
Governments, NGOs, civil society organizations and individuals all have a role to play in redefining work, wages and labour. Goonj.. for example, runs an innovative program called ‘Dignity for Work’. They collect clothes as donations, and offer it rural populations in need in exchange for community labour. Those receiving the clothes offer their work to find simple solutions to community problems – levelling land for a children’s playground in Bundelkhand, building a basic structure that will be used as a school in the Sunderbans or cleaning and restoring a community well in Karnataka (Source: https://www.facebook.com/goonj.org/). The community receives the clothes as a wage for their labour, and they gain assets that can be used for everyone’s benefit. People learn the value of what can be achieved when they come together, and start seeing themselves as agents of change rather than dependent on handouts.
PRADAN works with over 3.5 million poor families across 37 districts in India. A majority of the families they work with belong to Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Castes. They take a multi-pronged approach that touches different aspects of development. Their work includes creating Self-Help Groups to help women access institutional finance for livelihoods, increasing food security by creating work in agriculture, horticulture, forest-based livelihoods, livestock and micro-enterprises.
All it takes is some imagination and initiative to create a better future of work!
PS: You can read our blogs on the other UN Sustainable Development Goals here.
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