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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

25 November, 2022Trade unions need to create safe spaces for women to denounce cases of harassment and overcome the fear, the shame or any other obstacle for them to speak out, say IndustriALL Women Committee co-chairs and assistant general secretary on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on 25 November, marks the start of the 16 days of activism, concluding on commemoration of the International Human Rights Day (10 December). This campaign aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world, calling for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.

“Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today that remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.”

(UN Women)

Five years ago, the #MeToo movement sparked a global mobilization for the prevention and response to violence against women and girls. In this context, the adoption of ILO Convention 190 (ILO C190) and Recommendation 206, in 2019, has generated an extraordinary momentum to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence in the world of work. In many countries, trade unions, allied with feminist and other human rights organizations, are campaigning for the ratification and the implementation of the Convention.

22 countries have ratified ILO C190, 13 of which in the last twelve months. The pace of ratification is accelerating. ITUC expects that by 2030, 50 will have ratified this instrument.

IndustriALL affiliates have actively participated in the movement and campaigns that have led to this ratification in many countries. In parallel, IndustriALL and its affiliates have been conducting education, awareness raising, collective bargaining and campaigns for the implementation of these instruments in the workplaces.

ILO C190 - as well as existing legislation and agreements - needs to be fully implemented in order to prevent the impunity of the perpetrators of violence. Trade unions also need to create safe spaces for women to denounce cases of harassment, and overcome the fear, the shame or any other obstacle for them to speak out.

Gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) is still prevalent in all our industries, despite all our efforts and the work done in terms of awareness and education. A world of work free of violence and harassment is still a long way off. This fight against GBVH should be a daily struggle, throughout all the days of the year!

Fighting against GBVH in the world of work is a core trade union issue. Efforts of all are needed in our organizations. Women shall not be left alone in addressing GBVH. Trade unions must provide continued support to the women workers and trade unionists who are fighting for their rights and defending themselves, because it cannot be guaranteed that the violence will not be repeated. Men need to be more than mere bystanders; we expect them to fully take part in preventing and addressing GBVH.

IndustriALL’s Gender Equality Task Force, which will operate under the Women Committee, was established in October. It comprises of 12 members, out of whom six are men trade unionists. We strongly believe that this Task Force will contribute to reinforce IndustriALL’s response to this blight.

The 16 days of activism give us an opportunity to highlight GBVH through awareness, going out to the workplaces. The 16 days of activism is the time to campaign and mobilise. We encourage all IndustriALL affiliates to seize this opportunity to go to the workplaces, and to educate their members, including men, on GBVH and the ILO C190.

These 16 days should be also the occasion for IndustriALL affiliates to share their successes and good practices. It is also the occasion for us to exchange on obstacles and challenges. In October, the Women Committee stressed the importance of monitoring the results of all these continued efforts by IndustriALL and its affiliates, to build on the progress and develop strategies that would overcome existing obstacles.

Let’s use these 16 days to all intensify our efforts against GBVH, and to come up with renewed strategies and programmes for the rest of the year!

Hashmeya AL SAADAWI & Ilvana SMAJLOVIC, IndustriALL Women committee co-chairs,
Christine Olivier, IndustriALL assistant general secretary