BANGKOK (ILO News) - Violence and harassment is unacceptable at any time and at any place. Yet it remains pervasive and deeply affects the world of work. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated inequalities, hampering decent work opportunities and spiking gender-based violence.
Adopted by Governments, Workers and Employers across the globe, the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (No. 190) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 206) came into force on 25 June 2021.
As part of the Global Action Week, the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with the European Union, brought together world of work stakeholders in a virtual webinar to discuss how employers, workers and governments are addressing gender-based violence and harassment under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.
The event, “ILO and the Spotlight Initiative: Highlights and lessons learned from the world of work on eliminating gender-based violence and promoting the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) and Recommendation (No. 206)” saw government, employer and worker representatives share paths towards ratification and implementation of the convention as well as discuss steps taken and challenges faced in the battle to eradicate violence and harassment in the world of work.
H.E. Pirkka Tapiola, European Union Ambassador to Thailand opened the event, highlighting the importance and impact of the issue.
The adoption of Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206 recognise that violence and harassment in the world of work deprive both women and men of their dignity. Abuse is incompatible with decent work, social justice and human rights."H.E. Pirkka Tapiola, European Union Ambassador to Thailand
The Moderator, Manuela Tomei, Director of the Conditions of Work and Equality Department, ILO, contextualised the need for Convention No. 190 during COVID-19, which “has hit the most disadvantaged and vulnerable disproportionately, particularly individuals in the informal economy and insecure forms of work, such as migrant women workers.”
Elly Rosita Silaban, President of the Confederation for All Indonesian Trade Unions (KSBSI), reiterated the importance of the convention for vulnerable groups, where, “Women migrant workers and those of different sexual orientations are at a higher risk of violence and harassment than male migrant workers. Ratification of Convention No. 190 will protect all these workers.”
Speakers agreed that addressing violence and harassment at work was not only dignified for workers, but also good for businesses. “For employers, there are vast losses when industries do not tackle violence and harassment, they need to be able to manage and create workplace cultures where it is absolutely clear that violence and harassment will not be tolerated,” said Siriwan Romchattong, President and Secretary-General, Employers’ Confederation of Thailand (ECOT).
Antonio Martins, Vice Secretary of Konfederasaun Sindikatu Timor-Leste (KSTL) stated that, “Since Convention No. 190 was introduced, we as a trade union have been working towards achieving gender equality, just workplaces and eradication all forms of violence and harassment in the world of work.”
Israel Murefu from the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe emphasised that, “Zimbabwe’s tripartite social partners are supportive of the objectives and principles enshrined in the Convention No. 190, and are working with the government to implement it.”
The message was echoed by the Philippines. “We are gathering support and engaging in social dialogue towards the ratification of Convention No. 190 so that everyone in the country has a life free from violence and harassment”, said Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, Director, Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) of the Philippines.
Argentina is one of the first countries worldwide to have ratified Convention No. 190. Pamela Areas, Under-Secretary of Policies for Inclusion in the World of Work, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security highlighted that ratifying Convention No. 190 is about, “Realising that work and social life can coexist, and creating an environment free of violence and abuse in the world of work means respecting human rights and achieving gender equality.”
The event highlighted how commitment is growing from all stakeholders to free the world of work from violence and harassment, including gender based violence and harassment. Now more than ever, ILO Convention No. 190 provides a broad framework and guidance to make this a reality.
Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific provided closing remarks.
We will never effectively fight violence and harassment at work unless each and every one of us plays an active part, there remains much to do and many challenges ahead, ratifying Convention No. 190 will be pivotal step in creating a world of work free from violence and harassment."Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific