ITUC Statement on the occasion of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On the occasion of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the International Trade Union Confederation repeats its call for the International Labour Organization (ILO) to take steps to eliminate gender-based violence in the world of work.

Workplace violence against women remains a significant and serious human rights abuse: from the horrendous abuse of domestic workers living in and working in isolation; to the physical assaults experienced by women working in flower and tea plantations; to the economic and physical violence many women working in supply chains suffer.

Worldwide, 35 percent of women experience direct violence in the workplace and between 40 and 50 percent experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment.

Regardless of where the violence takes place, gender-based violence has the potential to impact the workplace. A woman who is facing domestic violence from an intimate partner may be stalked at her workplace, creating a safety concern for her and her co-workers. She may miss days of work due to injury or her performance may be impacted.

If the abuse takes place at work, committed by a co-worker, supervisor or customer, the worker may not feel safe at work. She may again need to take time off to heal from physical injuries, to seek counselling for psychological injuries, or to attend civil or criminal court proceedings.

Gender based violence also costs employers – through lost productivity, absenteeism, court cases and reputational damage, for example.

Yet there is still no global legal standard that adequately addresses gender based violence (GBV) in the world of work. In many countries, the only way a woman can seek justice for violence suffered at work is through a long and painful criminal process.

This is why the ITUC is calling on the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization to urgently address this appalling situation by adopting a proposal for an ILO standard on GBV. Such a standard would not only help to identify and clarify the true extent of violence against women in the workplace but would also help to provide governments, unions and employers with the tools to tackle it.

This 25 November we say enough is enough. It’s time to end violence against women at work.

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