27 July, 2023The National Union of Textile, Garment, and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) is leading an initiative in the textile and garment sector, leveraging ILO Convention 190 (C190) to combat gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in the workplace.
The two- day training in Lagos hosted by IndustriALL affiliate NUTGTWN, aims to strengthen the capacity of women leaders to push against GBVH. The union said the capacity building programme is aimed at providing information, raising awareness, promoting learning, knowledge building, and skills needed to advance gender equality at the workplace. This training focuses on assisting the establishment of a union network of activists who advocate for gender equality at work. The activists will also fight against social, cultural, and traditional norms that continue to oppress working women.
Representatives from FES Nigeria, ILO-ACTRAV, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Solidarity Centre, emphasized the importance of using C190 and Recommendation 206 as tools to address grievances related to GBVH and recognize domestic violence as a workplace issue.
Nigeria ratified the Convention in 2022. Discussion topics included dealing with grievances and disputes on GBVH timely; the recognition of domestic violence as a workplace issue; creating gender-responsive workplace mechanisms to protect whistleblowers and victims; and involving shop stewards and occupational health and safety committees in supporting victims.
The workshop made recommendations towards better representation of women in leadership positions at local and national levels, identifying women’s priorities, supporting mentorship programmes, creating dedicated spaces for women workers and the inclusion of women in negotiating teams. Furthermore, the inclusion of childcare and other support services was highlighted to facilitate increased women's participation in the workplace.
Remi Ihejirika, FES Nigeria programme manager said,
"building unions is about inclusiveness. This is why it is important to address gender equality. GBVH is about the abuse of power which adversely affects women and sometimes this leads to suicides. GBVH should not be condoned as many women suffer in silence."
"Unions can adopt feminist strategies to promote equal rights for women workers. Some of the strategies are diversity, respect, tolerance, understanding, voice and agency,"
said Bashiratu Kamal a gender and labour expert from Ghana.
Medinat Balogun, gender desk officer for NUTGWN and committee member of the IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) regional women’s committee said:
"Women trade unionists have made progress to ensure non-discrimination at work, equal pay for work of equal value, and adherence to ILO conventions ratified by Nigeria. However, women need to be increasingly aware of their rights at work and must fight against GBVH to ensure safe workplaces."
John Adaji, IndustriALL regional co-chair for Sub-Saharan Africa said:
"Over the years and with IndustriALL’s support, unions have carried out programmes to integrate women workers’ issues through the creation of structures, affirmative action, and support given to organizing activities. But we need men to be part of the discussions on ending GBVH as they have been identified by research as the main perpetrators."
Supported by FES Nigeria, the workshop serves as a follow-up to the recommendations made at the Sub-Saharan Africa feminist conference in Cape Town in June, with the FES Trade Union Competence Centre for Sub-Saharan Africa providing valuable support. The strides taken by Nigeria's textile and garment sector towards gender equality through C190 training mark a significant step in creating safer and more inclusive workplaces.