Union responses to gender-based violence and the COVID-19 pandemic

Even before the pandemic, global figures concerning domestic violence were horrific. Necessary emergency responses to the pandemic have exacerbated this crisis, as countries go into lockdown and introduce restrictions on movement. For many workers, home has now become the workplace. But home may be where they are most at risk of violence. Protecting our populations from COVID-19 should not mean abandoning women to domestic violence. Trade unions are demanding that governments integrate domestic violence in their pandemic response measures and are taking action themselves to ensure that workers experiencing domestic violence have support and assistance.

Reports suggest that many essential or key workers are experiencing increased exposure to gender-based violence from employers, colleagues and/or members of the public. This includes workers in health and care services – including domestic workers – as well as food retail workers, transport workers, cleaners and others. Health and care workers, over 70 per cent of whom are women, are experiencing trauma and psychological impacts on a daily basis. They must have immediate access to mental health services and support, as well as the necessary personal protective equipment.

The increase in teleworking carries with it the risk of a corresponding increase in ‘cyber bullying’.

Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 provide vital guidance for dealing with gender-based violence in the world of work.

Through this page, the ITUC will share information and resources to help unions tackle the issue of gender-based violence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be updated regularly.

Domestic violence

USA: Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19
AFL-CIO, USA, 1 November 2020

Isreal: Histadrut’s Campaign to Fight Violence Against Women
Histadrut Israel, 3 June 2020

Spain: Medidas autonómicas contra la violencia de género en tiempos del coronavirus
CCOO Spain, 28 May 2020

Israel: Demonstrations against domestic violence
English translation

Histadrut Israel, 6 May 2020

Argentina: La CTA Autónoma pone a disposición su sede para albergar a mujeres y personas LGBTTIQ+ en situación de violencia de género
CTA-A Argentina, 5 May 2020

UK: Domestic violence: support and guidance
FDA UK, 5 May 2020

Spain: CCOO en el pleno del Observatorio Estatal de Violencia contra las Mujeres
CCOO Spain, 20 April 2020

UK: Mental health and domestic violence in lockdown Britain
Communication Workers Union (CWU) UK, 16 April 2020

Spain: Mujeres y violencias machistas. Atención, recursos y derechos en tiempos de COVID-19. Preguntas y respuestas
CCOO Spain, 13 April 2020

Spain: Proteger a las víctimas de violencia de género en cualquier circunstancia
UGT Spain, 11 April 2020

Spain: La asistencia integral a víctimas de violencia de género es un servicio esencial (video)
UGT Spain, 11 April 2020

Belgium: Une coordination nationale pour lutter contre les violences faites aux femmes
FGTB Belgium, 9 April 2020

UK: Domestic abuse – why staying home isn’t safe for everyone and what you can do to help
TUC UK, 9 April 2020

UK: Interactive guide on domestic violence for reps
TUC UK, 9 April 2020

Australia: More funding for domestic violence services during COVID-19
Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Australia, 9 April 2020

Argentina: Emergencia(s) en tiempos de COVID19: Una mirada con perspectiva de genero
CTA-A Argentina, 8 April 2020

Canada: Domestic violence will increase with coronavirus pandemic
UNFCW Canada, 8 April 2020

Chile: COVID-19: CUT junto a diputadas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil solicitan al Gobierno medidas para prevenir violencia intrafamiliar en Cuarentena
CUT Chile, 6 April 2020

Brazil: CUT-PE lança campanha #FiqueEmCasa sem violência contra as mulheres
CUT Brazil, 6 April 2020

Brazil: Confetam lança resolução sobre violência contra a mulher durante o isolamento social
CUT Brazil, 6 April 2020

South Africa: FEDUSA Insists That Government Proclaims a Special Anti – GBV Strategy as Complaints to Police Escalate to 87 000 During First Week of Lockdown
FEDUSA South Africa, 5 April 2020

France: Violences conjugales : il faut protéger les travailleuses !
CGT France, 3 April 2020

France: Ne pas baisser la garde face aux violences familiales
CFDT France, 3 April 2020

Belgium: Courrier des Femmes CSC suite à l’augmentation des violences conjugales
CSC Belgium, 2 April 2020

France: Les violences conjugales et intrafamiliales au temps du confinement : une urgence syndicale !
CGT France, 2 April 2020

Canada: Maisons d’hébergement pour femmes : se protéger de l’homme et du virus
CSN Canada, 2 April 2020

France: Forte augmentation des violences intrafamiliales
CGT France, 2 April 2020

Uruguay: AEBU ofrecerá alojamiento a MIDES para víctimas de violencia doméstica
PIT-CNT Uruguay, 2 April 2020

Italy: Il coronavirus non ferma la violenza sulle donne
CGIL Firenze, 1 April 2020

Spain: Violencias machistas, en alarma permanente para garantizar servicios
CCOO Spain, 26 March 2020

Canada: Home is not safe for everyone: Domestic violence during a pandemic
CLC Canada, 26 March 2020

Spain: Recursos para víctimas de violencia de género durante el estado de alarma
USO Spain, 26 March 2020

Uruguay: Intersocial Feminista: En los períodos de crisis, la violencia de género se incrementa
PIT-CNT Uruguay, 25 March 2020

Italy: Coronavirus: Cgil, bene procura Trento, in caso di violenza domestica trasferire maltrattanti
CGIL Italy, 22 March 2020

Canada: Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, we are likely to see a rise in domestic violence
NUPGE Canada, 19 March 2020

USA: The Danger of Domestic Violence During Quarantine
Communications Workers of America (CWA) USA, March 2020

Gender based violence and frontline workers

UK: Abuse, threats and assaults against shopworkers double during the Coronavirus emergency - Usdaw calls for action
USDAW UK, 23 April 2020

Zimbabwe: GBV flyer in the wake of COVID-19
ZCTU Zimbabwe, 17 April 2020

UK: Home Office urged by Usdaw to introduce measures to prevent abuse of shopworkers
USDAW UK, 8 April 2020

The Philippines: NAGKAISA! Condemns Violence, Abuse, Discrimination Against Health Workers
SENTRO Philippines, 31 March 2020

Australia: Nurses and midwives plea to local communities
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA), 26 March 2020

Australia: Respect our retail workers
SDA Australia, 20 March 2020

Global Union Federations

Global: IFJ Survey on Women journalists and COVID-19
IFJ, 19 June 2020

Europe: ILO C190 pushed to address COVID-19 violence against women
BWI, 26 May 2020

Supporting members in need – Leaflet on domestic violence and COVID-19 (1)
Supporting members in need – Leaflet on domestic violence and COVID-19 (2)

UNI Global Union, 6 May 2020

Global: The Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic Workers and Policy Responses
International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), 1 May 2020

Europe: Women and their unions are battling a double crisis: Covid-19 and domestic violence
UNI Global Union – Europa, 20 April 2020

Global: Thinking a gender-responsive approach to COVID-19
Public Services International (PSI), 20 April 2020

Chile: Mujeres sindicalistas en Chile realizan taller sobre violencia y acoso en el marco del C-190 de la OIT y el COVID
Public Services International (PSI), 17 April 2020

Global: We cannot let domestic violence accompany the spread of COVID-19
IUF, 17 April 2020

Global: Podcast: Women’s advocacy and COVID-19
International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), 15 April 2020

Global: Protecting women’s rights during Covid-19
Industriall, 9 April 2020

Global: Domestic violence invades the workplace: Why ILO C190 is needed in the time of Covid-19
UNI Global Union, 6 April 2020

Global: COVID-19 demands: Equality
IUF, 6 April 2020

Global: Women bear the brunt of COVID-19 impact, say UNI unions
UNI Global Union, 30 March 2020

Additional resources

Global: Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis - joint statement by 58 governments
6 May 2020