International Women’s Day – unions’ essential role in fighting gender based violence
Gender-based violence blights the lives of millions of women. It excludes women from the world of work and often stigmatises them within their communities. Only when there is true equality will there be an end to gender-based violence.
Globally, 818 million women have experienced violence and harassment. The situation is even worse for women who are further marginalised and discriminated against because of race, class, caste, disability, gender identity, migrant status, indigenous status, or age.
Unions are committed to fight to end this unacceptable state of affairs.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman said, “It’s time we rid the world of gender based violence once and for all. The #metoo movement, which follows decades of work by unions (including UNI), feminists groups and others, has created some political space to move the agenda forward. We must seize this moment of global attention to the issue of sexual harassment at work and make some lasting progress.
“This summer the ILO will consider whether to support a Convention on Gender Based Violence. I call upon all of us to lobby our governments to make sure that we close the deal. This is our chance.
“The foundation of gender-based violence is power imbalance and this International Women’s Day we also renew our commitment to close the gender pay gap. The demand for “equal pay” is not a slogan from the past -sadly, it still resonates in 2019. The gender gap has barely budged in many years, which we cannot accept. Working women also need access to affordable child care, and enough hours at work to earn a decent living.“
UNI Global Union Deputy General Secretary, Alke Boessiger, added, “The core of UNI’s work is building strong unions and it is no secret that women who belong to unions are better off – the pay gap is smaller, more women are able to stand up to sexual harassment, fair schedules are more likely. So UNI will redouble its work to organize and expand collective bargaining., In sectors like care, cleaning and commerce, where women predominate, unions are essential to raise the notoriously low pay andto make gender equality a reality.”
Since the early 2000s, UNI Global Union, through its UNI Equal Opportunities Department has acted to raise awareness on the impact of violence, particularly against women. With the launch in 2009 of the UNI Equal Opportunities’ Breaking the Circlecampaign, the fight against violence became more visible. Leading discussions about the source of the violence and different types of violence, UNI has been at the forefront of the issue.
"Before #MeToo, and #Niunamenos, UNI Women were fighting back," said Veronica Fernandez Mendez, Head of UNI Equal Opportunities. "Before violence against women became headline news, and thousands of workers in the #googlewalkout left their workplaces to protest against sexual harassment, UNI women were fighting back. Our fight has been long in the making!
“On the occasion of International Woman’s Day on Friday 8th of March, we wish to highlight how our work has contributed not only to raising awareness around the issue of violence against women, but how it has allowed us to dream bigger, to aim towards an ILO Convention for the elimination of all forms of violence in the workplace.”