November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and kicks off the 16 Days of Activism campaign, a global effort to end gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH). Throughout the 16 Days of Activism, IUF regions and affiliates, together with our sister global union federations, will coordinate public demonstrations and awareness-raising activities.
GBVH includes various forms of violence and harassment including domestic violence. Domestic violence impacts the world of work, because workers do not leave the pain and suffering at home; it is therefore a workplace and a trade union issue. Workers’ health and safety and even their lives can be at risk, and workers can be disciplined or threatened with dismissal due to poor performance linked to the trauma of domestic violence. A number of IUF affiliates have been working to mitigate the impact of domestic violence, and in preparation for November 25, union representatives met online to exchange information and discuss strategies including:
- How IUF affiliates UFCW Canada and Unite the Union have succeeded in raising awareness throughout their unions about the issue of domestic violence, and how UFCW Canada succeeded in pushing the Canadian government to grant 5 days of paid leave to survivors of domestic violence in every province
- How DWU New Zealand developed its collaboration with the major dairy company Fonterra including the training of trade union representatives or “First Responders” on domestic violence
- How to build consensus around progressive legislation at the provincial and national levels, including the Spanish union UGT’s legislative success over the last number of years
- How IUF women’s committees in Togo and Uganda have developed strategies to raise awareness among their members and companies where domestic violence remains taboo; the IUF women’s committee in Uganda has produced a video on the economic impacts of domestic violence now used by other affiliates in Africa
IUF Women’s Committee Chair Patricia Alonso stated, “Addressing the impacts of domestic violence requires the active participation of all trade union representatives including industrial representatives, and all union leaders. We all know someone who has suffered or is suffering from domestic violence, and we know how it impacts people at work. We hope the IUF Congress will adopt a new strong mandate on fighting GBVH. We redouble our efforts in this area in memory of Jenny Dowell (AMWU Australia), former Vice Chair of the IUF (2002-2013), who was murdered by her husband in 2013.“