Violence against women in the workplace was a key topic when the IndustriALL Women Committee met in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 7 November. The Committee reinforced its support for a campaign to fight against violence and harassment against women in the workplace.
Violence against women in the workplace is real, and happens every day. It takes many forms – from verbal harassment to physical and sexual abuse. All forms of violence are unacceptable, and IndustriALL is campaigning to combat violence against women in the workplace.
IndustriALL’s campaign to highlight the issue calls on unions to take a stand against all forms of violence in the workplace under the slogan “unions say no to violence”.
Michele O’Neil, Women’s Committee co-chair, said that the fight against violence is hard work and will not change overnight:
“How can we think of reaching gender equality without eliminating violence against women which stands in the way of gender equality?
“But I have confidence that if IndustriALL and its affiliates take this fight seriously we will bring about change.”
The campaign will include mobilizations on 25 November, 8 March and around the International Labour Conference in June. There will also be an ongoing collection of information and exposure of violence against women in IndustriALL’s sectors.
Women’s Committee co-chair Monica Voloso, reinforced the importance of the campaign reaching all affiliates in the world to bring a change that guarantees women safe places to work.
“The campaign against violence against women is strengthened with the global support of IndustriALL. If all unions involved say NO to violence, we have powerful allies in the fight against violence.”
Aya Matsuura, gender specialist from ILO, spoke to the Women’s Committee about the ILO standard-setting process to end violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work.
The Women’s Committee supports a comprehensive ILO Convention, supplemented by a Recommendation, with a strong focus on gender based violence. But with only 38 out of 187 of ILO’s member-states in favour of such a convention it risks being a non-binding recommendation.
The Women’s Committee highlighted the importance for unions to take action and lobby their governments to support the adoption of a Convention.
Women in male dominated sectors
The overall objectives of IndustriALL’s work on women is to increase participation and representation in IndustriALL and its affiliates, and to promote, advance and protect women’s rights and equality. This is done through integrating women work in all sectors, networks, regional and project work and through addressing participation and representation.
In 2018, the work will focus on the male dominated sectors of mining, base metals, materials and energy, and on developing action plans to address women issues in unions and companies in those sectors.
Achieving the 40 per cent target for women’s representation in IndustriALL structures is a priority for the Women’s Committee. In IndustriALL’s youth work, targets are set higher, at 50 per cent, presenting equality as a fact and not a goal.
IndsutriALL Assistant General Secretary Jenny Holdcroft said:
“It is clear that without significant changes within unions, the 40 per cent target for women’s representation will not be reached.
“We will continue to support the work of the Women’s Committee in providing essential guidance to affiliates on the steps they must take to make space for women in their structures and decision-making.“