With a 20% increase in domestic abuse globally during the pandemic, this year’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence was more important than ever.
On 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and the start of 16 days of activism, UNI Global Union launched “There is no mental health with violence”, a new stage in the Breaking the Circle campaign to bring attention to the impact of violence on the mental health and wellbeing of women workers.
From sexual harassment to domestic abuse to online trolling; women are disproportionately suffering the effects of what the UN has called “the shadow pandemic” of violence.
Throughout the pandemic, the African continent has shown some of the highest records of violence towards women. In South Africa, the South African Police Service has recorded the murder of a woman every three hours, while in Liberia there has been a recorded 50 per cent increase in gender-based violence in the first half of the year. In Kenya, safehouses have been overwhelmed by a surge of women and children looking for shelter from sexual violence.
To help support this initiative unions from Uganda, DRC, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia joined other affiliated unions from across the world in highlighting the impact of violence and calling for a quick ratification of ILO Convention 190 to eliminate all forms of violence in the world of work. Activities included awareness-raising activities in workplaces, holding discussions around the topic of violence and inviting specialists to learn more about the impact of violence on the mental health of women. Many of these activities were organized and carried out by participants to the UNI Mentoring Program in the region.
“Our affiliated unions make us proud. Despite the pandemic, they joined us for these 16 days of activism to fight against inequality and violence and push for the ratification of instruments that can help eliminate violence, such as ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206. Today we have four countries that have already ratified it and it will come into force in June 2021. This shows that the more we are, the stronger our voices. Only together can we stop violence,” said Veronica Fernandez Mendez, Head of UNI Equal Opportunities.
The ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 are two international instruments that aim for the elimination of all forms of violence in the world of work. These instruments were adopted by the International Labour Congress in June 2019 and have been ratified by Uruguay, Fiji, Argentina and now Namibia, the first African nation to do so. With these ratifications, the instruments will come into force in 2021, providing more support and protection for workers across the world.