Namibia, Argentina and Somalia have ratified C190! We’re now at five ratifications of C190!
#RatifyC190 campaign updates from unions and allies across the world + photo gallery
In the spotlight: “Ratification of C190 in Pakistan is instrumental to the effective implementation of pro-women laws and the elimination of GBVH”, by Shaheena Kausar, member of the Women Workers Union (WWU) in Pakistan.
CONGRATULATIONS NAMIBIA, ARGENTINA and SOMALIA for becoming the third, fourth and fifth countries to ratify ILO Convention 190! With Uruguay and Fiji, we are now at five ratifications of C190! More countries are following suit, including Italy and Ecuador, which have completed the national ratification process. Ecuador should soon deposit the ratification instrument with the ILO. A hold-up within the European Council (see the ETUC statement later in this newsletter) may delay this final part of the process for Italy.
Namibia ratified C190 on 9 December 2020. Ambassador Penda Naanda underlined the importance of C190: “For many years, our country has been grappling with the problem of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment. The legacy of apartheid in the form of racist violence and harassment is unfortunately still alive, particularly in the world of work, and bullying and various forms of behaviour that inflict physical, emotional, and/or economic harm persist. (…) We will be guided by the Convention and its accompanying recommendation to introduce in the world of work a new paradigm of respect for human dignity.” Namibia also ratified the Domestic Workers Convention (C189) on the same day. Thirty-one countries have now ratified C189.
Argentina became the fourth country to ratify C190 on 23 February 2021. Minister Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, of the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity, said: “Argentina is internationally committed to the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work. This instrument sets out a roadmap for us to continue working to prevent and eliminate gender violence, obliging us to carry out regulatory changes and other transformations that bring us closer to a society free of violence.” In the run-up to the ratification, the network of unions against violence at work, Red Nacional Intersindical contra la Violencia Laboral, campaigned for the ratification across the country. The Ministry of Labour in Argentina held a cross-regional webinar underpinning the importance of ratifying C190.Vicki Erenstein ya Toivo, special advisor of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Namibia (February 2021) was one of the speakers.
Somalia became the fifth country to officially ratify C190. It completed its national ratification process in November 2020 and deposited the ratification instrument with the ILO on 8 March 2021, International Women’s Day. The national trade union centre, FESTU, described the Convention as ground-breaking, stating that Somalia’s ratification will assist the current trade union campaign to “tackle sexual and gender-based violence and lobby for the enactment of a progressive sexual offences bill”. In parallel, Somalia completed the national ratification process of six other ILO Conventions: C155, C187, C97, C143, C181 and C144.
Join the collective call to action on 25 June 2021:
Having met the minimum requirement of two ratifications, ILO Convention C190 will come into force on 25 June 2021. Join the collective call on all governments across the globe to ensure a world of work free from violence and harassment by ratifying C190!
Watch the UN#CSW65 parallel event webinar: #RatifyC190 to banish gender-based violence and harassment from the world of work – in English, Spanish and French. Women union leaders and allies share their experiences around the ratification of C190: Mererai Vatege, FTUC, Fiji; Silvana Cappuccio, CGIL, Italy; Milagro Pau, PIT-CNT, Uruguay; Fiona Gandiwa Magaya, ZCTU, Zimbabwe; Angélica Ordóñez, ASOUASB, Ecuador and Krishanti Dharmaraj, Center for Women in Global Leadership. The webinar was moderated by Cathy Feingold, ITUC vice president and director of the International Department of AFL-CIO(USA).
Watch the Human Rights Watchwebinar:Using C190 and National Law Reform to End Gender-Based Violence at Work(November 2020) - With Nisha Varia (HRW), Marie Clarke Walker (CLC Canada), Carmen Britez (IDWF), Manuela Tomei (ILO), and Delphine O (government of France). HRW launched their advocacy campaign to fight gender-based violence at work by promoting the ratification of C190 (Check our campaign updates and allies section for more information).
“Convention No.190 has a crucial role in shaping a human-centred response and recovery that tackles injustice and supports the building of a better normal, free from violence and harassment.”
ILO director-general, Guy Ryder
CAMPAIGN UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
8 March, International Women’s Day: ITUC’s online statement advocating A New Social Contract for a gender-equitable recovery and resilience includes the call for the right to live and work free from violence and harassment. The ITUC general secretary, Sharan Burrow, stated in her blog: “(…) Governments must take responsibility for women’s safety, including the right to non-violent workplaces, and employers must be held to account.”
Global Unions also reiterated their call to #RatifyC190 on 25 November 2020 and 8 March 2021, with initiatives such as those held by IndustriALL affiliates in South East Asia, Ivory Coast, Canada and Europe, Education International affiliates in Australia, and ITF affiliates in Romania.
INDUSTRIALL reported that an increase in gender-based violence during the COVID-19 crisis has led to an unprecedented level of trade union demands, for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 (in English, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic). In Morocco, the UMT and CDT reached out to parliamentarians and sent letters to the government, calling for the ratification of C190, while providing training to their members on working women’s rights and ILO C190. The JTGCU in Jordan reached out to migrant women workers and distributed leaflets and posters. In Iraq, Hashmeya Al-Saadawi, co-chair of the MENA region for IndustriALL, led a delegation to request the government to ratify C190. And in Tunisia, the UGTT sent a team to parliament calling for the ratification of C190 (January 2021).
ITFaffiliates in West and Central Africa organised a capacity-building workshop for women leaders in the transport sector, which is marked by constant violations of women’s rights. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of women affected by violence and harassment has doubled: more than 50% of women face physical, psychological and economic abuse as a result of the pandemic. The workshop will intensify the C190 campaign.
In ITALY, the CGIL, CISL and UIL applauded the Senate’s approval of the ratification of C190 (January 2021). It is the first European country to take this step. Mercedes Landolfi of FILLEA-CGIL stated that C190 complements the code of conduct already incorporated into their national collective agreements and many other company agreements, including in the wood sector and soon to be included in the building and construction sector. The final stage in the ratification of C190 is for the government to deposit the instrument to the ILO.
GREECE: On 8 March, GSEE placed a huge #RatifyC190 banner on its building and stated that “GSEE honours and stands in solidarity with women and men who have the courage and strength to resist violence and assaults on their dignity. Our position is premised on a broad concept of violence that includes rape, sexual harassment, verbal, psychological and physical abuse in the workplace, domestic violence and trafficking, as well as violence on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.” See also the ET blog by Yannis Panagopoulos, president of GSEE.
ALBANIA: The government of Albania initiated the C190 ratification procedure with the support of the social partners, particularly the BSPSH and KSSH trade unions. An analysis of the national legal framework with regards to C190, conducted in October 2020, was presented to the National Labour Council for further discussion. Trade unions in Albania expect that C190 will be ratified in 2021.
CHILE: See News coverage of CUT Chile’s campaign. Putting pressure on the government to #RatifyC190. Julia Requena, vice president of the Women and Gender Equity Committee, said that “it is the right moment for ratification”. Referring to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced incomes and the lack of social protection, she added that ratification of C190 could regulate and create laws to better protect these rights (December 2020). *** On 25 November, women of CUT Chile delivered a letter to President Sebastián Piñera demanding the urgent ratification of C190. In early November 2020, the Chamber of Deputies approved a draft agreement requesting the government to ratify C190. *** The CUT’s campaign continues: actions were held in March 2021 to reinforce their call to #RatifyC190.
TheATUC and the Global Union Federations in the region released an 8 March statement calling on all unions to reinforce their campaigns for a world of work free from violence and harassment and for the ratification of C190.
MOROCCO: “Violence in the workplace has dire effects on women psychologically, socially and professionally, due to the absence of legal protection. The pandemic has exposed the extent of the domestic violence in our societies, with the increase in the rates seen as a result of the lockdown, quarantine and isolation measures. With the adoption of C190, which recognises the dangers and effects of domestic violence on working women and outlines many protection measures, we will no longer be victims of double violence. Let’s mobilise to demand the ratification of the convention.” Amal el Amri, UMT assistant general secretary, parliamentarian and president of the Union Progressiste des Femmes du Maroc (UPFM-UMT)
NEPAL: Unions will carry out a year-long ratification campaign in 2021. The ILO launched a C190 tripartite Action Group (February 2021), with the representation of trade unions, employers’ organisations and the government. The C190 Action Group aims to advance gender equality and social justice by working towards the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work in Nepal.
PHILIPPINES: National C190 consultations were completed in February 2021 and the Ministry of Labour will now draft the recommendations on the next steps. The Institute for Labour Studies (ILS), part of the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) held a webinar calling for the ratification of C190 to ensure a world of work free from violence and harassment – the panel included Nice Coronacion, deputy general secretary of SENTRO. At a national tripartite feedback e-forum towards the ratification of C190 (19 February 2021), the DOLE secretary, Silvestre H. Bello III, expressed his full support for the ratification. “The Department believes that the ILO Convention 190 provides a critical opportunity for us to strengthen our existing legal and institutional mechanisms for addressing violence and harassment.” *** KMU celebrated 8 March with Women Workers Rise For Rights! and – in alliance with various trade unions – called for the protection of women workers’ rights, including decent wages, regularisation, economic aid amidst the pandemic, the ratification of C190 and an end to the attacks on trade union and labour rights advocates. *** NTUC, associate member of the ITUC, negotiated new clauses, in line with C190, in collective bargaining agreements(February 2021). The union and the company will proceed with its implementation, including workplace policies to raise awareness on domestic violence, a company manual to prevent violence and harassment and assistance and services for survivors.
INDONESIA:The Indonesia Coalition on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work submitted a research paper on violence and harassment to the Parliament (October 2020), underpinning the critical importance of ratifying C190. The Chemical and Health Federation (KIKES) affiliated to KSBSI, led by a young woman representative, signed an agreement with the management of the PT JMS Group (a company manufacturing medical-related products) on GBV-free workplaces, which starts with the formation of a complaints team at the company level and integrating this joint initiative into the collective bargaining agreement.
BANGLADESH: Unions started a year-long ratification campaign in January 2021 with the support of ITUC-AP. ITUC-BC Women’s Committee held a webinar (December 2020) as part of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV. Ministers of both Labour and Employment and Women and Children’s Affairs joined the event. A webinar was held during the 16 Days of Activism: Combined Efforts on Ratifying ILO Convention 190 in Bangladesh.
PAKISTAN:The PWF national trade union centre provides legal aid to people via their hotline (established in November 2020) against the backdrop of increased reports of layoffs, harassment, reduced wages, and intimate partner violence facing workers. PWF and APWA took part in the 8 March activities (2021).
JAPAN: Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, JTUC-RENGO urged the government to respond to a surge in violence and harassment in the world of work, including that faced by healthcare workers, supermarket workers, delivery workers in the transport industry and trainee teachers. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare responded with a list of Q&A to inform the public that acts of bullying and harassment in the world of work may fall under the Power Harassment Prevention Act, which was included in the revised Act on Comprehensive Promotion of Labour Policies in June 2020.
See also campaign updates from New Zealand (PSA), Mongolia (MTUC) and India (BWI affiliates).
Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) – Global #16Days Campaign
The 2020 Global 16 Days Campaign prioritised addressing violence and harassment against informal women workers and drew attention to their concerns. The campaign was implemented in 185+ countries by 6,000+ networks, organisations and institutions at the community, local, national and global levels. A day was dedicated to increasing awareness about the growth of femicide during the pandemic. The 16 Days of Activism Campaign has shifted from 16 to 365 days of the year to highlight and address the pandemic of gender-based violence. In 2021, the CWGL will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Global 16 Days Campaign. *** CWGL, in partnership with the Forum for Women, Law and Development and more than 25 allies from different sectors, launched an advocacy campaign in Nepal to call on the Government to ratify C190 (March 2021).
Report: Made for this moment: How ILO Convention 190 Addresses Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in the World of Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond, available in English, Spanish and Arabic. (November 2021)*** Blog: Lesotho: A precedent-setting binding programme that targets GBVH in four Lesotho garment factories is now in place for 10,000 workers producing jeans for the global market (February 2021). It coincided with a social media campaign, including text message blasts to garment workers, Lesotho-based media coverage and a video announcement by signatories to the 2019 agreements. *** In its 2020 annual report, Solidarity Center reports that its partners from around the world— from Bahrain to South Africa, and from Mexico to Morocco—went online, spoke at webinars, recorded videos and raised their voices on social media regarding C190.
StreetNet A webinar, Ratify ILO C190: Violence Against Women Street Vendors, was heldin December 2020 on the importance of ratifying C190 for the protection of women workers in the informal economy. Hilma Mote, ILO ACTRAV officer, shared that countries which have ratified C190 are sending a crucial message to their people: “Their leaders are saying that our workers, irrespective of employment status or income status, matter and their dignity has to be preserved”. Naira Leal of TUCA emphasised the important role trade unions have to play: “As [trade] unions we can and should sensitise and educate our members and society in general. Promote awareness, that’s fundamental: what is violence, what is harassment, when does it happen, what can we do about it? The preparation of guides for union representatives on how to support these victims is also needed, as is action to build alliances.” You can watch the webinar here (with subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Hindi).
Shaheena Kausar, member of the Women Workers Union (WWU) and general secretary for Women in the Punjab province of the Mutthaida Labour Federation, in Pakistan.
The union (affiliated to the Mutthaida Labour Federation) works for women’s labour rights in Pakistan and was founded in 2005. The women members are factory workers, home-based workers, domestic workers, private school teachers, ‘lady health workers’ and agriculture workers. WWU is a platform that women workers from all sectors can join and highlight their issues. WWU has outreach in nine districts of Punjab and believes “Equality is Empowerment”.
As a result of a long struggle by women’s rights organisations, in 2010, Pakistan’s government passed legislation to protect women against sexual harassment, The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 (PAHWA). After the 18th constitutional amendment, the subject became provincial responsibility and the provinces adopted the PAHWA accordingly. Many public and private institutions adopted the code of conduct immediately. Unfortunately, the industrial sector did not take it earnestly. The WWU conducted more than 100 awareness sessions on the law across the public and private sector. Trade unions and women’s rights organisations have worked tirelessly on the elimination of Gender Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH).
WWU has always advocated and demanded that PAHWA be part of the checklist of the labour inspectorate. In lieu of this law, it is mandatory to: (a) form an inquiry committee (to inquire into complaints under this act); (b) display a code of conduct in the premises; (c) organise an awareness session for employees (basic clauses of law) and; (d) display the inquiry committee’s name and contact details at the workplace. In the industrial sector, implementation is not satisfactory. GBVH is a grave concern and there are a number of organisations, including trade unions, which are working towards addressing this shortfall. Alliance building across the board and collective actions against the unacceptable practice needs to be enhanced. This would not only improve protection of women against harassment but would also improve production on the shop floor and efficiency at any workplace by providing a secure working environment in the world of work for women.
There are also a number of provincial legislations and policies to eliminate GBVH. It has to be said that Pakistan has the best legislation in the subcontinent, but the lack of implementation and political commitment remains a challenge. Ratification of C190 by Pakistan’s government would be instrumental in effectively implementing pro-women laws and in the elimination of GBVH.
Women hit hard by COVID-19 impact on garment sector (November 2020). The impact of COVID-19 on women in the garment industry has worsened due to underlying challenges such as discrimination and harassment, underrepresentation of women’s voices, wage gaps or unevenly shared unpaid care and family obligations, according to a new brief from the ILO. Available in English. The ILO related article is available in English, Spanish and French.
Policy Brief on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. The Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (No. 206) includes entertainment among the sectors and occupations which may be particularly exposed to violence and harassment. This brief analyses trends and patterns of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and provides an overview of relevant laws and other means to protect workers in the industry.
On 25 November, International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the ILO awarded the first prize in a special short film category sponsored by the ILO Loai Ahmed Galal’s powerful film, Message to my Dad during the Shasha Mobile Film Festival. The film portrays the life of a young woman married off at age 12 and spotlights the urgent need to end all forms of violence against women.
ITUC and the Global Union Federations are leading the way with a pioneering campaign for the worldwide ratification of C190 and its effective implementation, including R206, to realise a world of work free from violence and harassment, in particular gender-based violence and harassment. The campaign is supported by human and labour rights and feminist advocates including Human Rights Watch, ActionAid International, Oxfam, WECF, Solidarity Center and the Global 16 Days campaign.