News from the Asia & Pacific YCW: “We believe we are the solution”

Last October the Asia & Pacific YCW (ASPAC) held a continental action meeting, a seminar on social protection and a regional leaders’ exchange in the Philippines. The Continental Action Meeting was held in Taytay, in Rizal province. Twenty-eight participants from the YCW national movements of Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and the Philippines attended the meeting, and the ASPAC team, the IYCW secretary-general and a PANAF coordinator were also present.

ASPAC had chosen a challenging theme for the Continental Action Meeting: “We Are Young! We Are Workers! Fighting for Dignity.” Participants came together to share their experiences and concerns, difficulties and convictions about the YCW in their respective countries. “We are young people who want to contribute and participate in the society. We are often excluded and not respected. We want to find a way to live a dignified life in this society. Yes, we believe that we are the solution and we can make difference!”

The World of Work in Asia and Pacific

The Asia and Pacific region includes 47 countries that account for about 61 percent of the total world population. Data suggest that in 2016, more than 4.5 billion inhabitants out 7.4 billion worldwide belonged to that region. Asia-Pacific is home to diversified cultures and traditions.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) during its 16th Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, Asia-Pacific also provides more than 60 percent of the labor force worldwide. Over the past years, it has experienced a significant decline in poverty rates, a growth of modern industries and has a more educated labor force. However, employment which is a key factor in helping people move out of poverty remains stubbornly low. The sustained economic growth and dynamism does not translate into social progress and only benefits the few.

ASPAC Message: : "Young Workers Demand a Decent Living Income"

 aspaccampaign“In the world today, there is a wide gap between the decent life everyone is supposed to be entitled to and the difficulty we have to meet our most basic needs,” said the YCW Asia Pacific (ASPAC) team in a statement it has recently published.

The ASPAC YCW mentions appalling statistics from international institutions. For instance, according to the World Bank, around 50% of the world population lives with less than US$2.50 a day while in Asia alone, even in the least industrialized countries, you need at least USD15 to 20 per day to meet basic needs. Around the world, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. The ILO reported that about 5.1 billion people (75% of the world population) are not covered by adequate social security, while according to UN-Habitat, 2.6 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation and 884 million people lack access to adequate sources of drinking water.

The Reality of Young Workers in Asia

The statement includes some testimonies from young workers in Asian countries.

“I am working in a construction field and I am a daily wage worker. I am 20 years old, yet I am the one responsible to take care of my family. I have 3 younger brothers and sisters whom I am supporting for their education and family food expenses. I receive a salary of PhP250/day (US$ 5). With this salary, we can’t even afford to have a good meal three times a day. There are days that we eat rice with magic syrup (artificial cooking powder), adding water in it.” - Jomarie Navarro, Philippines

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