ILO Brussels marks UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

End all forms of violence and harassment in the world of work, particularly against women

News | 02 December 2021
On 25 November 2021, ILO Brussels marked the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and participated in various events to raise awareness of violence and harassment in the world of work and advocate for the widest ratification of the ILO’s newest international labour standard and landmark Convention on Violence and Harassment (No. 190).

The official theme of this year’s International Day and the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence was "Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!".
As part of ILO Brussels’ mandate, the Office, supported by colleagues from Headquarters, engaged in advocacy and knowledge sharing activities with its constituents, including giving presentations to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Women’s Committee and the femmes parlementaires du Réseau APF - the parliamentary assembly of French-speaking nations, as well as attended events organised by the European Commission and other UN agencies based in Brussels.

Within the world of work, violence and harassment constitutes one of the greatest threats to decent work which can tear at the social fabric of our societies. Often hidden, it can cause significant human, social and economic cost and has no regard to occupation, position, or sector. Speaking at some of these events, ILO Brussels Director Lieve Verboven highlighted how violence and harassment against women is one of the most pervasive forms of discrimination around the world, including within the EU, and can undermine women’s dignity, autonomy, and independence. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and inequalities with many forms of work-related violence and harassment on the rise across countries since the outbreak began.

In 2019, the ILO established for the first time an international treaty aimed at ending violence and harassment in the world of work, and set out a common framework for preventing, addressing and eliminating it. ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment (No. 190), and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 206), adopted by a large majority of the ILO’s tripartite constituents – governments, employers, and worker representatives – recognises the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment in all its forms, including gender-based violence. The convention gives a clear message that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.
Violence and harassment is defined as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices” which “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm” (ILO Convention No. 190 (Art. 1)).

ILO Convention No. 190 covers the entire world of work, including remote working and commuting to/from work, as well as third-party violence involving customers/clients. The convention covers everyone who is working, including interns or apprentices, persons who exercise the duties or authority of an employer, the public and private sectors, the formal and informal economies, as well as urban and rural areas.

Governments that ratify the Convention will be required to put in place the necessary laws and policy measures to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work. It will also require those to adopt, in consultation with the social partners, an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment, through prevention, protection and enforcement measures and remedies, as well as guidance, training and awareness-raising.

The ILO is now embarking on a global campaign to build support for ratification of Convention No. 190. So far it has been ratified by nine countries, including Italy and Greece. Ratification will accelerate action on the ground, including the adoption and enforcement of national laws, systems for prevention and methods of effective redress.
ILO Convention No. 190 has a crucial role in shaping a human-centred response and recovery from the crisis that tackles injustice and supports the building of a more resilience and socially just world of work, free from violence and harassment. It also works to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goals 5 (gender equality) and 8 (decent work and economic growth).