A global union webinar on stopping gender-based violence during the pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to ratify and enforce ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206, as a way to help protect women workers across the world.
ILO Convention 190 on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted by the ILO Conference in June 2019, but so far just a handful of countries have agreed to ratify it.
Covid-19 has led to an increase in domestic violence and attacks on frontline workers, particularly care workers and supermarket employees, most of whom are women.
Almost 400 people worldwide took part in the online webinar on 2 June, which was the second of three organized by the global union federations and the ITUC. A further 4,600 people viewed the livestream on Facebook.
UNI Global Union was represented by Julia Fox from SDA Australia, who is also International Vice-President for UNI Apro Women. Julia brought attention to how third-party violence affects workers in retail, presenting statistics from SDA research published in 2019. The research showed that 21 per cent of their members had been sexually harassed by a customer and 75 per cent of employees had experienced it more than once.
ILO Recommendation 206 on violence and harassment, identifies third parties as clients, customers, service providers, users, patients and members of the public, and their actions can significantly increase the likelihood of abuse.
UNI Global Union through its UNI Equal Opportunities department works to raise awareness of and prevent violence and gender-based violence through its Breaking the Circle campaign. In addition, the #stillonthefrontlines campaign (https://en.uni-iwd.org/) aims to support women workers as they face a staggering rise in violence, gender-based violence and domestic violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to change the balance of things, to make things right,” said Veronica Fernandez Mendez, Head of UNI Equal Opportunities. “We have been given an opportunity to create more inclusive societies by using the tools that we have worked and fought so hard for. Now is the time to further push for international instruments like C190 to help us eliminate all forms of violence at work.”
As Julia Fox remarked in her closing speech: “The undervaluation of women’s work has direct link to the rise of violence. It is clear that a lot of work needs to be done and to ensure recovery does not further entrench the gender roles and disadvantages of women. We must use this as an opportunity to push forward gender equality.”
Help us push for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 because #itcanchangelives.