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The OPIC Blog

On International Workers' Day, a look at workers in the developing world

May 1 is International Workers’ Day, which recognizes working people everywhere and their collective efforts to campaign for better working conditions.

OPIC’s work supporting development in emerging markets often helps create jobs in the host countries and OPIC works closely to ensure that workers’ rights are respected. The Agency’s Office of Investment Policy (OIP), monitors active projects to ensure compliance with several environmental, economic, social and human rights standards, including workers’ rights. These policies can be found in OPIC’s Environmental and Social Policy Statement (ESPS) and this recent interview with Margaret Kuhlow, Vice President of OIP, provides more detail on the extensive work her office conducts monitoring projects.

The attention to workers on International Workers’ Day also serves as a reminder of the massive global unemployment challenge. A report earlier this year from the International Finance Corporation (IFC)counted worldwide unemployment at  200 million — a number roughly equivalent to the population of Brazil – and said that the developing world will need to create some 600 million new jobs by the year 2020, just to keep up with young people entering the workforce. At a time when unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing workers, IFC’s report underscored the value of the work of development finance institutions (DFIs) like OPIC in creating jobs: The report showed that the private sector is responsible for creating nine out of every 10 jobs in developing countries.

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