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Unions call for elimination of gender-based violence

28 November, 2014On 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from Colombia, South Africa, Turkey and many others called for the elimination of gender-based violence.

IndustriALL affiliates in Colombia met and commemorated the day in Riohacha together with Igor Díaz, IndustriALL Executive Committee member. Women gave testimonials about their experiences with violence. Their stories ranged from harassment and persecution in the workplace to the issues faced by indigenous peoples when displaced by mining companies.

Jasmin, a Wayuu from the La Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia, told her story about the violence the Wayuu people has suffered since the Cerrejón mine opened in the region. Cerrejón is one of the world's largest open-cast mines.

The Wayuu people were displaced and lost their ancestral lands, and the mining activities contaminated the water. Jasmin’s organization, Fuerza de mujeres Wayuu, is the only organization that has spoken out against the assaults.

A story was also told about harassment and persecution faced by women unionists at mining giant Glencore. A particularly active union leader at Glencore was asked by the company to leave the union when fell pregnant. Employers used her pregnancy as an excuse as she was seen as problem due to her activity within the union. This situation has pushed her to fight to put an end to this type of discrimination.

In South Africa, participants at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Women's Conference commemorated the day by supporting the “16 Days of no Violence Against Women” campaign. This international campaign aims to raise awareness and to address policy issues regarding violence against women and children and also to campaign for the protection of survivors of violence.

In Turkey women from Petrol-Is launched a Twitter campaign to raise awareness on violence against women at the workplace.

The ITUC called upon all unions to continue to lobby their governments in view of adopting a proposal at the ILO Governing Body on gender-based violence. The fight to end violence against women continues.