Browse by Theme: Dignified Work

Remember one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history? 11 years ago, a Tsunami killed over 230,000 people in Asia and Africa, and devastated large parts of Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. The latter country was in the middle of a bloody civil war, which had lasted almost 30 years. Sri Lanka was not a good place to be, despite the beauty of its landscape and its people. 

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Ahead of the Syria conference in London in early February, donors and governments in the region are working closely to agree a new plan for responding to the refugee crisis in the region. The private sector will be critical to its success.

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Out on the conference circuit last year, I heard a lot about using a partnership approach (combining resources and efforts with others to reach some kind of mutually beneficial outcome) in order to reach more people (the most common definition of scale) and bring about change in the long term (impact). My challenge to other development colleagues, and to those I’d met previously at some of these conferences, was that we move away from sound-bite statements, and focus instead on being proactive about piloting and getting on with implementing.

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On Friday 25 September, together with DFID and UN Women, CARE will bring together government, international organisations, business and civil society at the ‘Transforming Economies: Empowering Women and Girls’ event (during the UNGA summit to approve the new Sustainable Development Goals). Participants come in their roles as leaders, decision makers, and activists. On Friday hopefully they will also come as change makers.

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The real challenge for the new Sustainable Development Goals is what happens after they are agreed. Deciding on the goals and targets is only the first step; backing them up with the commitment to implement them is crucial. The emerging consensus between the private sector, civil society, governments and multilateral agencies on the need for progress on economically empowering women is a positive sign. But how can business help make this ambition a reality?

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How much does the average high street shopper pay attention to where their clothes come from? If asked, most people wouldn’t think of Laos – but according to a 2012 World Bank report, even though Laos’ production of garments is still modest compared to some of its more competitive neighbours (China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam), garment production is the largest manufacturing sector in the country, with an annual turnover of $200 million. The sector employs more than 20,000 people in over 100 factories, and as with other low-cost garment-producing countries, most of the garment workers in Laos are young (17-25 years old), female (85%) and have migrated from the country’s rural areas. But do the pull factors of rural-urban migration translate into a better life?

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Post-war Sri Lanka (since 2009) has much to offer tourists, and the country is relying on the hospitality and tourism sector to drive up economic gains and create a positive ripple effect on related social factors – such as meeting the employment needs of several million young Sri Lankans on the look-out to secure a job. But why is it that so many women in the sector are not being supported in their careers – and why, in some cases, is it so hard for women to even enter the workforce?

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