Ending violence at work: CARE welcomes wide government support for global ILO treaty

 Economic DevelopmentGender,
 8th Mar 2018

CARE welcomes wide government support for first ever global treaty on ending violence and harassment at work

Geneva, 8 March 2018— Today, International Women’s Day, CARE welcomes the support from a majority of governments to establish a global treaty to end violence and harassment at work as made public in a new International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) report.

“The news that the majority of governments favour an ILO Convention means a new global treaty is in sight, perhaps as soon as next year. This is momentous and we need to see more governments and business bodies join them and the trade unions worldwide that want to bring about the best global agreement and national action possible to end violence and harassment at work,” said Glen Tarman, CARE Head of Global Advocacy.

The so-called “yellow report,” ‘Ending violence and harassment in the world of work,’ presents member States’ responses and key conclusions about the scope of a proposed global treaty. It sets the stage for initial discussions by governments, employers and workers’ representatives at the International Labour Conference, the highest decision-making body of the ILO, in May – June 2018 and the hard work therefore lies ahead of, and when, these groups gather in Geneva for this key meeting.

Given the legal gaps in how national laws and current international standards address this issue, a binding ILO Convention would provide a critical guidepost and address the challenges that women and marginalised groups face in accessing the right to work free from violence and harassment. CARE is calling on governments, business and trade unions worldwide to join forces and adopt a global treaty in the form of an ILO Convention on violence and harassment in the world of work as a first step to building accountability and changing the narrative for women everywhere. Such a treaty must focus strongly on the gender dimension of violence and cover workers across all sectors while encompassing situations beyond the physical workplace.

“Violence and harassment against women and girls is a global issue. More than one-third of the world's countries do not have any laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work and millions of working women are vulnerable in the workplace yet there is no international legal standard specifically for protecting women at work from these abuses. It’s time to make workplaces safe for women everywhere,” said Milkah Kihunah, a leader of CARE’s work to promote a life free from violence for all.

CARE is encouraged by the recognition in the ILO yellow report of an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach which tackles underlying causes and risk factors, including gender stereotypes, as essential to ending violence and harassment in the world of work. CARE also welcomes the recognition by governments that there is a link between domestic violence and the world of work and the ILO Convention should also set out a commitment for measures that can contribute to ending domestic violence.

CARE supports the report’s wider consideration of the world of work beyond the physical workplace as well as the acknowledgment of violence and harassment affecting workers’ psychological, physical and sexual health, dignity, family and social environment. CARE strongly agrees with the considerations regarding enforcement, monitoring and victim support as well as workers and their representatives taking part in the design, implementation and monitoring of policies.

It is critical that women play a major role in consultations around the ILO Convention’s development and adoption, as well as in its long-term implementation in national law and regulations, and in engagement with implementation, enforcement and remediation authorities and employers. CARE calls for deliberate action by governments, employers, trade unions and civil society to ensure that women can play a strong, meaningful role and that their voices are heard and acted upon.

Around the world, CARE works to educate and empower women to advocate for workplace rights. From domestic workers in Ecuador to factory workers in Cambodia, women are fighting for safety and respect. CARE is committed to supporting citizens to raise their voices for a global treaty and to act in solidarity with women everywhere to end workplace violence and harassment.

Spokespersons are available upon request; contact Lisa Hadeed +41 (0)79 372 1346

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