As many as 35 per cent of all women – 818 million women worldwide – have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in their communities or in the workplace, according to a study initiated by Union to Union.
“He just pat and squeeze my butt and I said nothing, because he is my superior and he is drunk,” said a woman union leader in the study. She did not report because of the fear of losing her job.
Many women do not report abuse, according to the study – either because they do not realise that they are victims, or because they are still dependent on the perpetrator, for instance a superior. In most cultures, traditional beliefs, norms and social institutions legitimize and therefore perpetuate violence against women.
This violence against women is violence that is gender-based. Gender-based violence means that women are subject to abuse and mistreatment simply because they are women.
At the global level, the study shows that the trade union movement provides structures for a consolidated response to the ongoing discrimination that takes place today in workplaces around the world. The trade unions’ demand for a more effective tool, such as a new ILO Convention against gender-based violence, is important. At the 107th International Labour Conference that will take place 28 May to 8 June 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“For BWI, working against gender-based violence is an integral part of BWI’s on-going broader work on promoting gender equality, the reason it formed part of the 2018-2021 BWI Strategic Actions adopted on our Global Congress in 2017 at Durban, South Africa,” said Rita Schavi, BWI International Women’s Committee Chair.
BWI is one of the 10 Global Trade Union Federations that participated on this study as well as on the ILO discussions on the contents of the new Convention. The Global Women’s Conference crafted a 4-year action plan based on the BWI strategies to ensure that these will be put into action.