International Women’s Day – NO Roll Back on our Rights!

IFJ - International Women’s Day 2017

The IFJ is backing global calls to end violence against women and close the gender pay gap as part of its campaigning on International Women’s Day.

IFJ Gender Council co-chair Mindy Ran explains why the IFJ backs the global fight for women workers’ rights.

Over the years, International Women’s Day articles have pointed out the exceedingly stubborn gaps that refuse to close in terms of access to training, jobs, promotions, equal pay and the right to work without threat, harassment or violence.

However, now there is a real threat to destroy the progress made over the past decades by the rise of right-wing political movements in many countries across the globe.

It is a timely reminder of the very first International Working Women’s Day, as it was originally known, held in 1909 in New York as a socialist event. This was 11 years before women had the vote nationally in the USA.

This year, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, has written: “There can be no rolling back on women’s rights.” The article also stated: “The surge in populist misogyny threatens to reverse progress towards gender equality and women’s autonomy … It’s time to organise. And women are rising to the challenge”.

The ITUC is urging all unions to “join human rights defenders, women’s and feminist organisations in calling for the guarantee and respect of women’s rights at work, in the home and in our communities”. In particular, we are highlighting the urgent need to close the gender pay gap and to support an ILO Convention on Violence in the World of Work as a means to stop gender based violence (GBV) in the workplace.

At a time when tens of thousands of women journalists are facing threats, intimidation, harassment, violence and online and physical abuse the need for action could not be greater.

For female journalists, this rise of “acceptable” misogyny – as evidenced by the recent loss of legislation against domestic violence in several countries – is colliding with rising threats to press freedom. As history has shown, these sorts of threats to the press usually lead to increases of violence. And, as with other forms of violence, female journalists may increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs. This has already happened in terms of the harassment seen during the US Presidential Election.

For these reasons, the IFJ stands in solidarity with the ITUC and has pledged to campaign for an ILO convention against violence in the workplace. In this regard, the IFJ, the IFJ Gender Council (GC) and the ITUC have been working on toolkits so that each IFJ affiliated union may have the tools to understand such a convention’s importance and details, and how to organise the campaign in each country. The IFJ will be releasing a dedicated toolkit for media workers in the coming weeks.

Sadly, it is not only the threats to press freedom, and the normalising of violence that threaten our equality and well-being. Comments, like those by Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke that women deserve less pay because they are “smaller, weaker and less intelligent” should not be acceptable within the European Parliament.

In these shifting times, it is more essential than ever to speak out - to join the ITUC in saying “no rolling back on women’s rights.”

Post your events and stories to the IFJ Gender Council for our website, join and post to the Equality ITUC FaceBook page for 8 March “Feminism is a Trade Union Issue”, join the many marches going on around the world or the Day Without a Woman General Strike called by the organisers of the Women’s Marches.

Wherever you can, however you can, join in and let the world know – we will not accept a roll back of our rights!

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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