European equality bodies discuss how to combat sexual harassment at work

News | 24 October 2019
Lieve Verboven, Director of ILO-Brussels, presented the new ILO instruments on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work at a conference on Sexual harassment at work, organized by Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies, and OHCHR.

Ms Verboven mentioned that the adoption of the new ILO standards is very timely, in light of the Me Too movement, an excellent example of the continuing relevance of the ILO’s mandate and its flexibility in adapting to the demands of the changing world of work. The ILO recognizes that violence and harassment at work damage not only individuals, but also businesses, and the economy and society as a whole. It takes into account that different groups of workers have different needs and vulnerabilities.

Asked about the challenges the ILO has faced to effectively tackle sexual harassment, she pointed to the scarcity of comprehensive and comparable statistics on violence and harassment at work. In order to strengthen its assistance to Member States, the ILO will assess current data availability on the topic and gather comparative information on national laws and practices.

Equality bodies can play a crucial role in preventing and addressing violence and harassment at work and in supporting victims. They can develop policies, promote and share good practices and raise awareness.

With ILO Convention 190, equality bodies now have an additional tool to fill the gaps in national legislation and ensure that the right to a world of work which is free from violence and harassment is respected and put into practice. They can also become lead actors in implementing the Convention.

“The ILO stands ready to support tripartite consultations and national efforts to promote, implement and disseminate the new instruments,” Ms Verboven concluded.