ILO in Jordan and partners to work with private sector against violence and harassment

Press release | 25 June 2021
As Convention C190 came into force, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Jordan and national partners have agreed on a private sector engagement plan encouraging employers to implement effective policies on violence and harassment elimination and prevention.

At a one-day meeting, the ILO and its partners “specified steps that they will take to provide employers with instruments and standards for decent work, women’s empowerment, violence and harassment elimination, and awareness raising,” said Reem Aslan, gender technical specialist, ILO Jordan Decent Work for Women Programme.

The plan builds on a proposed “National Strategy for the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work”, launched by the ILO and its partners, including the Jordanian National Committee for Women (JNCW) and the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU). Endorsed by more than 50 stakeholders representing workers, employers and civil society organisation’s (CSOs), the strategy is based on the main elements of prevention, response, and protection, as well as integrated policy and accountability mechanisms.

“Working groups will be formed to follow up on strategy implementation, prioritising certain sectors that will be announced at a later stage,” Aslan added.

What is violence and harassment?

a. The term “violence and harassment” in the world of work refers to a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and includes gender-based violence and harassment;

b. The term “gender-based violence and harassment” means violence and harassment directed at persons because of their sex or gender, or affecting persons of a particular sex or gender disproportionately, and includes sexual harassment.

Convention C190
Frida Khan, ILO Jordan country coordinator and gender specialist Arab States, called for a comprehensive approach.

“The issue (violence and harassment) has to be tackled in a comprehensive manner that looks at laws, workplace policies, labour inspection, codes of conduct, and grievance redress all together. This is what the national framework (strategy) aims to do,” Khan said.

A 2017 JNCW study found that 34.4 per cent of violence and harassment incidents occurred in workplaces in Jordan.

Campaign against violence and harassment

JNCW Secretary General, Salma Nims, warned that the absence of effective solutions to violence and harassment pushes women out of the workplace.

“Policies against violence and harassment are the foundation for devising plans and adopting instruments that can be implemented and followed up,” Nims said.

What is the world of work?

It covers the workplace, including public and private spaces where they are a place of work; in places where the worker is paid, takes a rest break or a meal, or uses sanitary, washing and changing facilities; during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities; through work-related communications, including those enabled by information and communication technologies; and in employer-provided accommodation.

Convention C190
GFJTU President, Mazen Maaitah, agreed with Nims, demanding “unified understanding of violence and harassment and collective action against the two phenomena, which obstruct women’s participation in the labour market”.

Despite efforts in Jordan to economically empower women, female labour force participation remains low at 14 per cent, compared to 54 per cent for males, according to national estimates. The labour market inclusion of women in Jordan, which remains amongst the lowest in the world, is in contrast with education outcomes in the country, with women representing 53 per cent of university graduates.

The Amman Chamber of Industry (ACI), an ILO partner, “emphasised keenness to help create a work environment free from violence and harassment”.

“The ACI works with the ILO on awareness-raising campaigns, protection mechanisms, codes of conduct,” said Reem Baghdadi, a member of the Industrial Women’s Business Council of the ACI.

Convention C190, the first international treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work, has a broad scope, applying to all sectors, whether private or public, both in the formal and informal economy, and whether in urban or rural areas.

Adverse impact on the world of work

Violence and sexual harassment are widespread phenomena that undermine equality at work. They can have negative impacts on victims’ pay, career progression and working conditions, and potentially drive individuals out of the world of work. While they can affect anyone, violence and sexual harassment particularly affect women, and reinforce stereotypes about their abilities and aspirations. They also contribute to fewer women entering or remaining in the labour market (adding to the gender labour force participation gap) and to women being paid less than men (exacerbating the gender pay gap).
As part of ILO Action Week on Convention No. 190, the organisation in Jordan launched a campaign against violence and harassment, in partnership with UN Women, GFJTU, and JNCW.

The campaign asked women and men to share their experiences with violence and harassment as well as their views on the effectiveness of internal regulations and national legislation.