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International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

190 reasons and more for ratifying ILO C190

25 November 2019 - Today we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The strongest message and best possible way of celebrating this International Day would be the announcement by several governments of the ratification of ILO Convention C190 on Violence and Harassment.

This new international instrument - Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 - on violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted at the Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019.

Much progress has been made but we still have a long way to go. It is exactly two decades since the United Nations officially designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in memory of the three Mirabal sisters, assassinated in 1960 in the Dominican Republic.

Public Services International (PSI) celebrates the adoption of Convention 190 as a major milestone and strongly urges all ILO Member States to ratify and implement it.

Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary:

Violence and harassment is not part of life, it is not something you have to go through because you are a woman. The campaign for C190 was initiated by women trade unionists many years ago, fighting for the elimination of gender-based violence at work. It gathered momentum and obtained global consensus culminating with adoption of a new international instrument for everyone, dealing with violence and harassment in the world of work. This goes to show that the struggle for women’s rights can advance the rights for all.

The fight for women´s rights advances the rights of all 

There are more than 190 reasons for maintaining the pressure and achieving C190 ratification now! Here are only a few of them:

For Irene Khumalo, from the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union and Chair of PSI’s World Women’s Committee, no-one is left behind: “the recognition of this new right at the international level, the right to a world of work free of violence and harassment, protects everyone. In particular, it ensures the right to equality and non-discrimination in employment and occupation for workers in situations of vulnerability due to race, gender, age, physical condition, sexual orientation or gender identity. The convention goes beyond the workplace to cover the world of work, with a considerable gender dimension as, for the first time, domestic violence is included as an element that affects employment”.

Annie Geron, PSLINK (Philippines), states that “with C190, a brand-new definition of violence and harassment has been set, linking violence and harassment as one indivisible term”.

Gloria Mills, UNISON (UK), reaffirms that women workers in Europe are disproportionally affected by gender-based violence and harassment. “Convention C190 is clear that an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach, is essential to ending violence and harassment in the world of work.”

Carolina Espinoza, CONFUSAM (Chile), highlights the fact that C190 clearly states the critical role of freedom of association and collective bargaining in preventing and eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work, concluding that “the best defense for a woman is her union”.

For Jan Hochadel, AFT Connecticut (USA) President and PSI Vice-President for the Interamericas, the explicit inclusion of the public sector in the range of the application of C190 is one reason more for ratification:

“Although there is universal recognition that international labour standards apply to all workers, this convention makes public sector workers specifically visible. And women represent the majority of public sector workers worldwide”.

Our actions and momentum will grow, reaching out to the 134 Governments and 96 Employers who voted in favor of C190, highlighting the many reasons to ratify this Convention, and convincing those that abstained or were not in favour.

Make this 25th November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a landmark day - #RATIFYILO190 For a World of Work free from violence and harassment.