Employment & Empowerment

Employment and economic empowerment have a symbiotic relationship. When people are empowered to make their own choices, they can choose how to participate in the economy. On the other hand, employment can empower people, especially youth and women, to direct their lives and to make decisions. In a post-conflict setting both become vital facilitators of peacebuilding: employment is a way to illustrate demonstrable gains of the peace process, and economic empowerment can bring marginalized groups into the post-conflict setting in new ways, potentially transforming sources of conflict and building more inclusive, broad-based economic structures. When people are economically empowered and able to independently support themselves through quality employment, the likelihood of a return to conflict is diminished. In this section, employment is also considered within the broader context of sustainable livelihoods, based on the premise that this more holistic orientation better responds to the array of post challenges where "normal" employment avenues may not always be available. This broader context helps to lay an important foundation for economic recovery that facilitates peace consolidation.

Employment as understood in this portal refers to both quality and quantity of work. In a post conflict setting, ensuring decent work shares basic values with, and undeniably contributes to, peacebuilding. Such work is premised on notions of fair compensation, security in the workplace, social protection for families and better prospects for personal development and social integration, participation in decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity.[1] Empowerment, while still lacking conceptual consensus, importantly deals with notions of change at different levels and within different domains, with people taking control of their lives and setting their own agendas, solving problems and becoming self-reliant again vital in post-conflict settings where state and even traditional authority institutions at all levels may be broken down after war. Understanding informal employment and factoring the informal sector into decision-making about post-conflict economic recovery is necessary, because many, if not most people earning a livelihood in a post-conflict environment are doing so informally.

Employment and empowerment of youth, as well as women, are given special consideration in this section. There is widespread agreement that surging youth populations, in contexts of high unemployment, urbanization and other factors- can lead to violence are considered a potential threat to security. At the same time, youth, like women, are important agents of social change and have central roles to play in economic recovery and peacebuilding.

Both macro and micro level policies and programs that can support post-conflict empowerment and employment programs are discussed, alongside key actors in the sections that follow. Examples of macro level reforms are tariffs, exchange rates, and taxation policies that support long-term, equitably distributed employment opportunities, while the promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurship, and skills training encourage employment and empowerment at the local level. Cross-cutting principles that guide good practices within employment and empowerment related activities are then discussed, including gender equity and mainstreaming, social protection, sustainable livelihoods and jobs, and responsiveness to the market and national development vision. Strategic issues related to implementation of the various activities overall, and specific strategic frameworks and operational mechanisms increasingly being promoted and utilized to foster and expand employment and economic empowerment in post-conflict settings are assessed, including those specifically relating to youth concerns, such as the Youth Employment Network and World Program of Action for Youth. Finally, critical debates that underlie the relationship of employment and macroeconomic growth are discussed, alongside challenges that continue to confront national and international actors in the creation and implementation of decent work and empowerment-related policies, programs and opportunities in post-conflict settings.

The news, reports, and analyses herein are selected due to there relevance to issues of peacebuilding, or their significance to policymakers and practitioners. The content prepared by HPCR International is meant to summarize main points of the current debates and does not necessarily reflect the views of HPCR International or the Program of Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. In addition, HPCR International and contributing partners are not responsible for the content of external publications and internet sites linked to this portal.