Speakers urge government to ratify ILO’s Convention C-190 to ensure world of work free from violence and harassment
Karachi: Speakers at a seminar stressed the government to immediately ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Convention C-190, to ensure a world of work free from violence and harassment.
They were speaking at a consultative meeting of stakeholders on the “Elimination of Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in the World of Work”, organized by the Workers Education and Research Organisation [WERO] with the collaboration of the International Union of Food Workers [IUF], Public Services International [PSI] and All Sindh Lady Health Workers and Employees Union [ASLHWEU]. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare recommendations for the improvement of current legislation as well as the need to aware workers and civil society about the issues faced by workers at their workplace.
Chief guest, Nuzhat Shireen, Chairperson, Sindh Commission on the status of women (SCSW), while speaking on the occasion said that only through unified action, all issues confronting men, women and transgenders can be highlighted at national and international level while stressing government to implement those laws and policies which are already in place. On the issue of gender-based violence and harassment, she reiterated SCSW’s resolve to end all such discrimination, through reaching out to all stakeholders and extending them all out help from the commission.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention C190 – Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 with recommendation [R206] – Violence and Harassment Recommendation, is the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. The Convention was adopted in June 2019, by the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and came into force on 25 June 2021.
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains one of the most persistent barriers to gender equality and sustainable development. Estimates from UN Women indicate that 1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime, in addition to verbal and psychological abuse.
Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year. Meanwhile, less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence report it or seek help. After the lockdown violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified.
Under the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign, a 16 Days of Activism under the global theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” has been going on around the world. In Pakistan too, various organizations are holding seminars and meetings to promote this campaign.
Sheher Bano, Senior journalist and Vice President, Pakistan federal Union of journalists, observed that despite the passage of eleven years since The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act was passed (March 2010), the gender committees which are mandatory under the law are still not been formed in many media organizations where female journalists continue to suffer and face all kinds of harassment, physical, mental and psychological. “After COVID-19 no policies are made to live in the world of new normal where the world of work has extended from office to field to homes,” she said while adding that female journalists have waged a long struggle to fight for their rights and still the fight is on for equal pay for equal work, discrimination at workplace, online harassment, digital safety and other atrocities.” She demanded regular counselling services for female journalists who are suffering due to various reasons. “Covid-19 has revealed the fault lines of economic policies of media industry which are not workers friendly.” She also highlighted the important role of media in reporting GBV and the harassment issues in which dignity of survivors of violence need to be the top most priority.
Veteran trade unionist Zehra Akbar informed about 25th November when Mirabal sisters (Butterfly sisters) opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (El Jefe) in the Dominican Republic and were involved in clandestine activities against his regime. The three sisters were assassinated on 25 November 1960.
Mir Zulfiqar Ali, Executive Director, WERO, said in Pakistan, some legislations protect workers from violence and harassment but there is a need to make those laws more comprehensive and broader. “While the world of work has been extended even to the home and lot of workers are involved in domestic and home-based work. Similarly, the workers in different sectors work in the community and travel around which includes the majority of women workers who face violence and harassment at the workplace and community,” he added.
Qamar-ul-Hasan, Director South Asia, National Union of Food, Agricultural Hotel, Restaurants, catering, tobacco, allied workers’ Association, Haleema Zulqarnain, President and Ms Shama Gulani, General Secretary of All Sindh Lady Health Workers and Employees Union [ASLHWEU] and other trade union leaders spoke on the occasion.
In the end, a committee of six members was formed to carry forward this campaign and do lobbying with the government for the ratification of ILO’s C-190 and also implementation of other laws and policies which are already in place in Pakistan. -END