This Sunday 21 June marks one year since the International Labour Conference overwhelmingly adopted ILO Convention 190 Convention on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work. The ground-breaking global instrument is supported by Recommendation 206. Together, both tools create an international legal framework to protect workers from violence and harassment in the world of work.

UN statistics show that  35 per cent of women – 818 million women globally – over the age of 15 have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in their communities or in the workplace. More than one in three countries have no laws against sexual harassment in the workplace: an estimated 235m women are left unprotected.

Gender-based violence is not about an individual but rather a systemic evil. Victims are targeted for many different reasons – their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class or race. It undermines workers and makes them afraid to speak out because they know it will probably result in them losing their job or being further victimised. This power imbalance enables employers to pay pitiful wages that do not support families,  and get away with unsafe workplaces,  further compounding a culture of  violence and harassment on the job.

Since the Convention was adopted, only Uruguay has ratified; although countries like Spain, Argentina, Fiji and Finland are in the process of doing so.

“As the coronavirus pandemic increases violence against women, it is more important than ever for countries to ratify the Convention. As governments focus efforts on managing the impacts of the global health crisis, ending violence and harassment cannot be allowed to slip down the priority list. We will continue to push with our affiliates for ratification of the Convention by as many countries as possible – and there is nothing to stop this tool being implemented now, ratified or not,” said Veronica Fernandez Mendez, Head of UNI Equal Opportunities.

To support the work of affiliated unions on the ground in lobbying governments for the ratification of the Convention and the Recommendation, UNI has joined forces with other Global Union Federations under the slogan #itcanchangelives.

Let’s continue to join forces on 21 June and make it happen!

Watch the video!