Safety at work is a basic right
All over the world, women and girls have to deal with harassment and violence at work. That is not acceptable. #Orange the World, a global campaign initiated by UN Women, starts November 25th. This protest campaign against gender related violence, will go on for 16 days.
'What are we waiting for?'
ILO Convention 190 was established to stop harassment and violence at work. Although the convention was created in 2019, only 22 nations have ratified it. Even the Netherlands still hasn’t done so. Marjolein Groenewegen of CNV International wonders why, saying, “What are we waiting for? Sexual harassment and violence against women is a global problem. Why haven’t we ratified ILO Convention 190? Safety at work is a basic right—for everyone.”
In addition, women still suffer discrimination economically, earning less than male colleagues who do the same work. This problem is worldwide, occurring in developing countries and here in the Netherlands.
> Veelgestelde vragen over geweld op het werk
To everyone who’s suffered violence or harassment at work: Do not stay silent! Tell your story. Together we can say NO!”
Trade union leader Mariama Diallo of Senegal
According to Groenewegen, “Raising awareness around the issue is the first step. This means putting more women in leadership positions, in companies and in trade unions. We offer gender audits to provide insight for unions as they investigate whether there is a balance of gender. We also give training programs and advice on how to improve the gender balance.”
“Improper conduct like sexual harassment and violence against women is often difficult to talk about. These delicate subjects must be approached with awareness, openness, and transparency so women feel more comfortable about opening up and talking. We should stand together and speak out about violence at work, every day. Not just during #OrangeTheWorld.”
Yunika Kurniyatiningsih, CNV Internationaal Indonesia
Inspiration from Benin
Benin trade union COSI (West Africa), with support from CNV Internationaal, has set up a free telephone line for women who have experienced violence at work. They can call to get legal advice, a medical referral, or simply to have someone to talk to. The help line is important, especially for women who can’t get to the union office in the capital city.
Partner union CNT in Niger followed COSI Benin’s example and created their own helpline for women in August 2021.
Angela Kpeidja, a journalist in Benin, experienced sexual harassment, but didn’t speak of it for years. She’s broken her silence and is playing a major role in opening the topic to discussion. She tells her story in this video.
Specially for #OrangeTheWorld, ViceVersa global has written an extensive article about COSI’s work in Benin. They’ve also conducted a powerful interview with a woman who was sexually harassed in her place of work.
More and more small and medium-sized enterprises in international chains are taking responsibility for ensuring safety at work. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and CNV Internationaal have created a guide with practical advice and tips on making sure all employees feel safe at work, be that in your company, your subsidiaries, or the factories you work with.
Brochure Violence @ Work