Knowledge and Insights from Youth: Open Space (September 2023)

Published by AYF Secretariat on

On September 23th, 2023, AYF hosted its sixth Youth: Open Space and presented our two networks that shared their experiences regarding decent work. They are Noor Hanisah from Singapore and Rastra Yasland from Indonesia. Both of our networks have come from different backgrounds, Noor Hanisah has a background as Advocacy Consultant on Refugee and immigrant issues and she is also a member of Singapore Youth for Climate Action. She was our Youth Ambassador for the Right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and Rastra is our manager of Community Outreach and Program Development.


Work in Harmony

By Noor Hanisah, Singapore

At the age of 30, Hanisah has experienced a diverse array of roles, from student care staff to pharmacist, rollerblading instructor to humanitarian and teacher, with many more in between. Her journey through this eclectic mix of professions was not just about earning a paycheck but also about discovering the intricate relationship between work and identity. Many of us can relate to the idea that work constitutes a significant part of our lives, but what exactly defines "work," and what should it represent in our lives?

In this open space, Hanisah shares raises thought-provoking questions that many of us might have grappled with at some point in our careers.

Work often intertwines with our personal identity, and sometimes it can be a source of tension. Have you ever felt unable to pursue a particular job due to aspects of your identity, such as your faith, gender, age, ethnicity, or nationality? What distinguishes a fair employment opportunity from a discriminatory one? These questions push us to examine the core principles of fairness and equality in the workplace.

Moreover, Hanisah delves into the concept of work being an integral part of our lives. How much of our life should work encompass? Achieving excellence in our work while leading a fulfilling life poses a complex challenge. It's not just about the hours spent at the office but also about how it impacts us physically, mentally, socially, and even legally. Striking the right balance between professional and personal life is an ongoing journey that many of us embark upon.

The answers to some of these questions might be straightforward, while others serve as a starting point for a deeper exploration. Hanisah's journey and her questions remind us that work is not just about what we do to earn a living; it is intrinsically connected to who we are and how we lead our lives. The path to harmonizing work and identity is unique for each of us, and it's a journey filled with valuable insights and experiences.


The Right to (Decent) Work

By Rastra Yasland, Indonesia

In the ever-evolving landscape of labor and employment, the right to decent work remains a pivotal topic of discussion. It's a fundamental concept that encompasses various dimensions, and Rastra's discussion materials offer a profound insight into this matter. Let's delve into two key points that highlight the essence of decent work.

Point 1: Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (General Comment No. 18)

This point underscores the significance of Article 6, which is a part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. General Comment No. 18 associated with this article provides crucial guidance on the right to work. It stresses the importance of not merely having a job but having access to dignified and fulfilling employment. This includes not only the right to work but also the right to work in conditions that are consistent with human dignity.

It emphasizes that work should not be exploitative, and it should offer fair wages, safe working conditions, and the opportunity for personal development. General Comment No. 18 also addresses the right to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining, giving employees a voice in their working conditions.

Point 2: Some "Forgettable" Elements of Decent Work

Decent work isn't just about the nature of the job but also about the conditions and support systems that surround it. Rastra's discussion materials touch upon some often overlooked but critical components of decent work:

  1. Training and Development: Every employee should have access to training, skill development, and career advancement opportunities. This not only benefits the employee but also empowers them to contribute more effectively to their workplace.
  2. Reasonable Working Hours and Work-Life Balance: It's crucial that employees' working hours are reasonable and allow for rest and leisure. Promoting a healthy work-life balance is essential to prevent burnout and ensure overall well-being.
  3. Health and Wellness Programs: Employers should provide wellness programs to support employees' physical and mental health. A healthy workforce is a more productive one, and it's an ethical responsibility for employers to contribute to their employees' well-being.
  4. Social Protection: Access to social security, including healthcare, unemployment benefits, and retirement plans, should be ensured for all employees. This safety net is essential for providing a sense of security and stability in the workforce.
  5.  Safe Working Conditions: Workplaces must be free from hazards and risks, safeguarding employees' physical and mental health. Ensuring safety is not only a legal obligation but a moral one.
  6. Regular Review and Improvement: Workplaces must strive to improve the dynamics in the working environment. This includes listening to employees' concerns, making necessary changes, and fostering an atmosphere of continuous improvement.

These often-overlooked elements are integral to the concept of decent work. They not only make a job better but also contribute to an improved quality of life for employees. Rastra's discussion materials invite us to reflect on the broader context of work and labor, emphasizing that decent work is not just about having a job but also about creating an environment where employees can thrive both professionally and personally. In doing so, we can move closer to achieving the ideals of Article 6 and General Comment No. 18, ensuring that the right to work is synonymous with the right to dignified, fulfilling, and supportive employment.

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