Why tackling violence and harassment in the workplace is key to ensuring women have access to decent work
We recognise the central role of violence and harassment in the workplace in continuing oppressive working conditions, in diminishing women’s voices, and in breaching women’s rights, and we are committed to supporting women to fight it. For instance, recent CARE research in Cambodia showed that sexual harassment is a regular occurrence: “nearly one in three women garment factory workers report experiencing sexually harassing behaviours in the workplace over the last 12 months”. This sexually harassing behaviour is often tied to bullying by supervisors across a range of work issues: excessive overtime, low pay, lack of benefits.
Power differences as well as stigma and vulnerability associated with certain types of work, in addition to a repetitive and high-pressure work setting based on meeting production targets, have all been identified as factors that lead to a hostile work environment. Violence and harassment remain a largely hidden issue. They rarely appear on ethical audit reports and data on prevalence and impact is fractured. It is also often low on the priority list of brands and employers – as it is not considered a core labour rights issue – and trade unions often fail to prioritise it, despite the largely female workforce in many industries.
Supporting the ILO Convention on ending violence and harassment in the workplace
So we are taking the opportunity of World Day for Decent Work this year to continue to promote support for the ILO Convention on Ending violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work. We recently submitted our detailed response to the ILO’s Questionnaire on the new Convention, and we will be working hard between now and the International Labour Conference next June to build more support for the Convention across governments, business and trade unions in the global South and in the global North.
We ask everyone interested in women’s rights and in workers’ rights to support the ILO Convention – check out the ITUC Campaign, keep up to date with what’s happening via Insights, and ask your own organisation what it is doing to support the Campaign.