Published: 24/11/2023

Each year on November 25, IUF affiliates stand together on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and then continue organizing, coordinating public demonstrations and awareness-raising activities during the 16 Days of Activism.

Gender-based violence and harassment, linked to abuse of power and economic control, flow from the unequal balance of power between men and women. While unions are committed to fighting against all forms of discrimination and many unions have made equality policies a priority, we must recognize that gender-based violence, including domestic violence, is part of it.

ILO Convention 190 is a powerful tool in this fight. Adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2019, 36 countries have so far ratified the convention (12 in Europe, 9 in Africa, 8 in Latin America, 3 in the Caribbean, 3 in Asia/Pacific and 1 in North America). We must accelerate and intensify our lobbying efforts with governments for ratification; the trade union movement fought for C190, and we must continue the fight until we win everywhere possible.

  • C190 puts collective bargaining at the heart of prevention and elimination of gender-based violence and harassment, as well as any kind of violence and harassment in the world of work
  • C190 calls for a comprehensive understanding of the root causes of GBVH and ask States to require employers to work with unions in the hazard identification and risk assessment; risk assessments should pay attention to working conditions, work organization and human resources management including key factors such as economic vulnerability, short-term contracts, unrealistic work targets
  • C190 indicates that States shall identify, in consultation with the employers’ organisations and unions, the sectors or occupations and work arrangements in which workers are more exposed to violence and harassment; its accompanying Recommendation (R206) recognizes that work in isolation (e.g. plantations), hospitality and domestic work expose workers to increased levels of violence and harassment

Affiliates are encouraged to use and adapt the joint GUFs toolkit on C190 and R206: Violence and Harassment in the World of Work – Facilitator Guide and Activity Workbook.

Let’s use C190 and R206 now because their implementation can really make a difference in workers’ daily lives. For instance, imagine if a hotel worker were no longer afraid to go to work because she knew there is a negotiated zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. This policy agreement would clearly state that it is not part of her job to tolerate sexual harassment perpetrated by clients, managers or other staff members. Imagine if a worker felt that her colleagues, manager and union would be supportive if she were a victim of domestic violence. Implementation of these standards fundamentally changes workers’ perception of their working environment. The workers will also understand the union’s key role in ending violence and harassment in the world of work.
Patricia Alonso, IUF Women's Committee Chair