Women trade unionists join forces to stop violence and harassment in the workplace

Women trade unionists from six countries in the Middle East and North Africa are launching a cross-country campaign on violence and harassment in the workplace with the support of the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme.

“It is hard to come forward and tell about violence and harassment. Often, it is the victim who is shamed and looked down on,” says Meryem Bouallal, a board member of the Moroccan trade union UMT.

She is one of 19 women from Jordan, Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Palestine and Denmark, who in 2020 participated in an online workshop to find common solutions on how the trade union movement can help reduce violence and harassment in workplaces. They are basing their work on the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (C190) of 2019, which guarantees the right to a working life free from violence and harassment.

The workshop is part of the Danish Trade Union Development Agency’s Danish-Arab Equality Network which meets twice a year to exchange experiences and receives the support of the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme. For Fatiha Khourtal, who is active in the trade union UGTM Morocco, the network’s meetings offer a room where women can share experiences and solutions.

“We might have problems in Morocco, for which Jordan can have a good solution and the other way around. It has given me inspiration to think out of the box and create new partnerships. The C190 campaign will inform workers about their rights and about equity, and provide them with information about how to seek help if they experience violence and harassment,“ explains Fatiha.

The challenges vary from country to country, and so does the campaign. “Tunisia is at the forefront of dealing with the legal part when it comes to violence in the workplace,“ says Wassila Dridi, Regional Coordinator of the Women’s Committee in the trade union UGTT.

The Jordanian participants in the gender equality network have decided to target their campaign towards the workers in the country’s garment industry. In Egypt, the focus will be on the public sector, and in Morocco on the private sector. The campaign kicked off on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021.



For more information
Contact Jacob Rosdahl, Danish Trade Union Development Agency