Good news on rights at work: the ILO (International Labour Organization) - based in Geneva - on June 21 adopted a New Convention to combat abuse and harassment at work. The Convention adopted is an “historical achievement”.
The provisions contained in the Convention recognize abuse and harassment at work as unacceptable and responsible for physical and psychological damage, and negative economic consequences on society.
ActionAid – one of the agencies that is at the forefront to combat violence against women at work - welcomes the adoption of this Convention, which condemns violence and indicates rules to protect workers, regardless from their contractual arrangements (the Convention applies to all workers, including interns, trainees, volunteers and job-seekers).
Now member states need to translate their commitments into action, by promptly ratifying and implementing the Convention.
The extent of the phenomenon
The figures are alarming and indicate the long path ahead to implement these provisions in practice: there are still 59 states that do not have any law condemning abuse or harassment at work, a scourge affecting one woman in three.
For instance, in Bangladesh - a State without clear laws on the matter, where numerous industries serving the Western market are located - ActionAid is present and committed to help female workers and women improve their work and life conditions.
A survey commissioned by ActionAid in May 2019 on 200 workers in the textile segment (of which 181 were women) working in Dhaka revealed shocking results: 80% of the workers witnessed or suffered this kind of abuse first hand.
ActionAid has worked for many years to condemn and stop the abuse that millions of female workers must suffer in silence.
On the eve of the Geneva Conference that adopted the Convention, ActionAid published a study conducted by YouGov on ActionAid's behalf. It is an online survey submitted to approx. 7.000 adults resident in the UK, Australia, Sweden, United States, Ireland and Holland. Concerning working conditions in Bangladesh, the majority of the respondents (61%) believes that Western governments (22%) and companies with affiliated agencies in the Country (39%) should be responsible for ensuring decent working conditions.
Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, says: “Many garment manufacturers are taking important steps to improve building safety. Now it is time to tackle the gender-based violence that is still a daily reality for many of the women who make the clothes we wear.”
ActionAid acts as an agent for change on two fronts: by giving a voice to marginalized people, and working to push stakeholders and national legislators to respect workers’ rights, including by implementing this newest convention.
You too can support this: if you click here, you can help us to continue to combat the abuse that female workers suffer at work