Equality and discrimination in Pacific island countries

Equality in the workplace, Vanuatu
An inclusive labour force should comprise all adult workers willing and able to work. However, discrimination on the basis of gender, disability, or other characteristic, whether at the job application stage, or discrimination in pay and working conditions, prohibits many Pacific Islanders from achieve the goal of equality in the workplace.

This is not only a breach of a human rights, but also carries detrimental economic impacts both from the country, and the employer’s perspective. Excluding someone from a job not only reduces productivity (as person selected may not be the best person for the job) but also increases the cost of the benefits that are provided to people out of the workforce, who could otherwise be employed (for example, disability benefits and pensions).

Discrimination in the workplace, including against women and disabled workers, also leads to economic and social costs such as absenteeism, emotional distress, and potential social breakdown. Governments, employers, and trade unions can take a proactive approach to eliminating the problem of discrimination, based not only on human rights principles, but also a recognition that a workplace free of discrimination and harassment leads to better work performance and higher productivity.

The ILO CO-Suva is committed to working with Pacific Island countries to remove discriminatory barriers to participation in the workforce particularly for women, disabled persons and persons living with HIV/AIDS.

To find out more about our work in these important areas, click on one of the links below.
To find out more about ILO Conventions tackling discrimination in the workplace, click here: