The Global Deal

International Women’s Day: Advancing gender equality in the labour market – a discussion with Global Deal partners - Jane Rexworthy


8 March 2021 - To mark the occasion of the International Women’s Day, Jane Rexworthy, Executive Director of People 1st International, shares her views on how to advance gender equality in the labour market.

Read the full interview and find out what piece of advice these 3 inspiring women would give to young women entering the labour market:

Jane Rexworthy, Executive Director, People 1st International 

Esther Lynch, Deputy General Secretary of the European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC) 

Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International 


Jane Rexworthy, Executive Director, People 1st International   

“Can you share some good examples of how social dialogue can further gender equality?”

In Jordan when we were working on behalf of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development we had the opportunity to work with a number of Civil Society Organisations and donor funders and the Ministry of Labour. We used social dialogue to identify how to improve the opportunity for women refugees to access gainful employment in a number of different occupations /businesses and also set up their own businesses. The benefit of social dialogue was that it allowed for the sharing of best practice and the ability to create training interventions for women that resulted in a high percentage gaining work in industry or as an entrepreneur in industries that did not conflict with family and cultural challenges.

In the UK we created Women 1st as a membership network for the hospitality and tourism industry. The purpose of Women 1st was to raise the social dialogue on the importance of women in senior roles. As part of this work a mentoring scheme and a leadership development programme called Step Up was created to support women in the industry progress in their careers. This was supported by women in senior roles within the industry who gave their time to present at events and participate in think tanks.


“According to your experience, what is the top priority to advance gender equality in the labour market?“

The top priority to advance gender equality in the labour market is to recognise the barriers and challenges and address these in a constructive way that supports gender equality. These barriers and challenges vary considerably across the globe.

Some of the top priorities I think that need addressing include:

  1. Challenging a dominant masculine culture in some occupations.
  2. Taking down the glass ceiling for women entering senior roles- increasing the visibility of women in senior positions
  3. Supporting women who choose to have a family and continue to stay and/or look to progress in their career.
  4. Understanding family and cultural restrictions for women entering or progressing in some occupations.
  5. Promotion of networking for gender inclusivity.


“What piece of advice would you give to young women entering the labour market?”

  1. Look to work for companies who provide and recognise the importance of flexible working.
  2. Identify ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD), in your organisation or outside, including leadership training to support you in your progression.
  3. Identify mentors and sponsorship programmes that will help you to develop yourself. You will need a number of different mentors throughout your career.
  4. Use appropriate networks and membership to improve your presence and reputation in the industry.  


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