Womankind welcome the adoption of a new convention to end violence against women in the world of work

Maria Vlahakis, Policy & Advocacy Manager – violence against women and girls & Roosje Saalbrink, Policy & Advocacy Manager – women’s economic rights | Jun 24, 2019
35. Pancha Laxmi Lama, aged 44, is a member of the Saathi savings group and successful businesswoman – with her own shop and bead making business in Nahar Tole,

On Friday 21st June the two week International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference concluded. The annual gathering of representatives from Member States, employers and workers marked the centenary year of the conference by adopting a new convention on violence and harassment in the world of work.

Womankind welcomes the ground-breaking Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 - which aims to eliminate workplace violence, and applaud members for adopting the convention. We recognise the work of civil society organisations and unions who have been instrumental to the convention being adopted.

Violence and harassment in the world of work is a global problem and occurs across all industries, in private and public, in the formal and informal economy, and both on and offline. People who work in low paid, informal or unregulated work such as domestic work are at higher risk of abuse meaning women are disproportionately affected by violence. Violence and harassment against women takes many forms including physical, psychological, sexual and economic violence and abuse.

Violence against women in the world of work is a human rights violation and we welcome the convention’s recognition that everyone has a right to a world of work free from violence and harassment. We also welcome the acknowledgement that women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence and that tackling gendered power relations is essential to ending violence and harassment against women in the world of work.

The strong and inclusive new global law requires governments to take measures to ensure the safety of all women, including women who experience multiple and intersecting discriminations who are often the most marginalised, in the world of work. Responsibility will be placed on States and employers to prevent and respond to violence and harassment against women in the world of work and ensure they have swift access to justice.

This convention compliments other key UN instruments that tackle issues of violence and discrimination against women such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW). Member States must implement the convention in conjunction with all these instruments as well as Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Further, we welcome the recognition that violence and harassment is incompatible with decent work and may prevent women from accessing, remaining and advancing in the labour market undermining women’s ability to realise their economic rights. To this end the convention rightfully states that Member States shall promote decent work, respect, and realise freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. With the erosion of labour rights globally, this is particularly important.

This new convention is a positive first step in ensuring women’s rights are respected and realised in the world of work but there is more to be done. We continue to call for a UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations that would hold corporations to account and end corporate impunity and human rights violations globally.

We also know that the online space is becoming a site of work where women increasingly face abuse. Whilst we welcome the new convention’s recognition that information and communications technologies can facilitate violence and harassment at work, governments and technology companies must work to protect women from online harassment.

Now that the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention has been adopted, we urge States to work quickly to ratify and implement it and ensure strong laws and policies that will make the aims of the convention a reality and end all forms of violence and harassment against women in the world of work.


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