Unions worldwide demand an ILO convention to stop gender-based violence at work
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) will join a global coalition of trade unions and civil society groups to seek to put an end to the daily violence faced by women at work.
The worldwide coalition will join forces to call on governments to support an international convention to stop the “epidemic” of gender-based violence (GBV) in the workplace.
The risk of exposure to violence is often greater in journalism and media. For women journalists, violence and intimidation don’t just happen in conflict zones, they are every day experiences.
Almost 2/3 of the women journalists polled by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) had experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work.
Now, the campaign, backed by the International Trade Union Confederation and women's groups on every continent, aims to convince a majority of government members of the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Governing Body to support the adoption of a convention, which is due to be debated by the ILO in June 2018.
By ratifying an ILO Convention, governments would commit to put their laws in compliance with the standard and would help women secure their rights, reduce their exposure to GBV and increase their economic independence and productivity at work.
“The enforcement of adequate laws is crucial to prevent GBV at work and trade unions play a key role in this, as well as ensuring such rights are respected,” said IFJ President, Philippe Leruth.
Until September this year, the coalition will be lobbying governments and employers organisations to respond to an ILO consultation on the need for a convention with a strong focus on gender-based violence at workplace. The ILO has released a major publication on GBV which includes several model clauses and a hundred of case studies.
“Protecting and empowering women workers and journalists is a union issue and one of our priorities,” added Leruth. “The IFJ is urging its affiliates and all journalists worldwide to join the campaign and lobby their national governments and employers so the convention can be passed as a first step to ending this nightmare of violence and abuse. It would send a strong message that violence is NOT part of the job.”
Mindy Ran, co-chair of the IFJ's Gender Council said: “For women journalists violence, abuse and harassment, both physical and online, are daily occurrences.
“Precarious work, lack of contracts, low pay and an attack on union rights are all contributing to this epidemic.
“GBV is a reflection of unequal power relations between women and men and one of the most prevalent and ignored human-rights violations in the world.
“Unions are at the forefront of campaigning to put an end to this abuse of our human rights – now governments and employers must step up to help stop the violence”.
The global trade union coalition is campaigning to ensure any ILO convention includes a broad definition of gender-based violence at work, agrees measures to prevent GBV at work as well as the means to protect and support workers affected by it.
In addition, it would save money, as domestic and workplace violence costs the economy billions of dollars in health care, court cases, lost wages and sick pay.
There is no universally agreed definition of GBV. It can be any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women and girls, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
More than 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence and between 40% and 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
Such violence, alongside domestic or ‘intimate partner’ violence has a clear impact on the workplace through absenteeism, loss of productivity and job security for the victims.
GBV in the newsrooms
The risk of exposure to violence is often greater in journalism and media, in particular where work is informal or precarious, wages are low, workers are stopped from joining or forming trade unions and where management accountability is low. For women journalists, violence and intimidation don’t just happen in conflict zones, they are every day experiences.
Almost 2/3 of the women journalists polled by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) had experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work. Most of the attacks normally take place in the office and almost 45% are committed by a boss or supervisor. Only a small minority who have experienced sexual harassment dare to report it.
Threats online are swiftly increasing. Digital harassment targeting women differs from the threats experienced by men: it is misogynistic. As journalist and UNICEF ambassador Tara Moss said, “women are being harassed online in almost epidemic proportions.” The online harassment of women is at risk of becoming an established norm in our digital society, with women under 30 particularly vulnerable.
Women in the unions
Did you know? In many parts of the world, women in unions earn on average 30% more than non-members, 3 out of 4 unionised women have pension plans whereas just 4 out of 10 non-unionised women workers do. Apart from higher wages, unions also offer legal support and advice, collective bargaining, representation, education and training.
Not a member yet? Contact our affiliated trade union/associations in your country.