16 days: Violence against women, COVID-19’s “second wave”

Describing the increasing violence against women as COVID-19’s “second wave,” BWI Africa and Middle East capped its 16-Day campaign against gender-based violence with a regional webinar held on 8 December. 

The online event, which was opened by BWI Africa and Middle East Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng, was attended by close to 50 workers from 16 unions and 10 countries. It discussed how the pandemic worsened the cases of VAW and femicide in the region, particularly in Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique. It also presented ways on how trade unions can firmly integrate gender issues to their organising work.

Kudzai Chireka, a gender specialist from Namibia, said that gender-based violence and harassment at homes and workplaces are key organising issues. “Violence and harassment are incompatible with the principles of decent work. These affect women workers’ ability to find and maintain work, and take a toll on their physical and mental well-being. It is therefore a key issue for trade unions to organise around gender equality,” she said.  

BWI Regional Women’s Committee Chair Elizabeth Amuto agreed. She said that trade unions have a critical role to play in supporting women workers who that have been victims of gender-based violence, as well as the prevention of the said abuses.

The webinar was part of BWI’s 16 Days of Trade Unionism on Violence against Women. It was conducted with support from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).