July 7, 2021 – The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) described by the ILO as “the first international treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work” came into force on June 25, 2021. To date, seven countries have ratified the Convention, including Mauritius, Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Somalia, and Uruguay. “We at the Global 16 Days Campaign applaud the commitment of the seven countries that have ratified C190, especially amidst challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The groundwork for this has been laid over the years by grassroots and online advocacy efforts led by women’s rights organizations, civil society organizations, and labor rights movements across the world. We hope that other countries will take cue from this and ratify the Convention soon,” said Melissa Upreti, Senior Director, Program and Global Advocacy at CWGL.
C190’s broad definition of the “world of work,” includes both “private” and “public” spaces. C190 applies to workers “irrespective of their contract status.” It includes within its ambit both formal and informal sectors. C190 is a legal instrument and when read in conjunction with Recommendation 206, it establishes the right of every worker to freedom from violence and harassment in the world of work, recognizing it as a human rights violation. To this end, the definition of “violence and harassment” in the world of work within C190 is nuanced and encompasses physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and includes gender-based violence and harassment. Among its other highlights include C190’s acknowledgement of domestic violence as a workplace issue, which impacts women’s employment, health, safety, and productivity.
From 2018-2021, through events, online campaigns on social media, hashtag activism using #RatifyILO190 and advocacy materials in the form of advocacy guides in 2019 and 2020, resource documents and a social media toolkit, the Global 16 Days Campaigned has worked closely with its allies and partners towards increasing awareness on C190 and demanding accountability and structural changes and policies from governments. To concretize the work on C190 at the national level, in March 2021, the Global 16 Days Campaign partnered with The Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) to jointly launch a national-level advocacy campaign with more than 25 allies from different sectors for calling on the Government of Nepal to ratify and implement C190.
In 2020, the Global 16 Days Campaign supported nine Community Circles in Kenya, India, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, Bahamas, Fiji, Indonesia, and the U.S through its ‘Public Safety and Equity Initiative (PSEI),’ with an objective to develop global and local safety indicators to assess women’s safety in public spaces, especially with the acknowledgement that “public spaces” often constitute the workplace for women workers such as street vendors, waste pickers and sex workers. “We believe in the right of every woman to a world of work free from violence and harassment. Our ongoing work with the community circles and with the national civil society coalition on C190 in Nepal demonstrate how feminist and labor right movements can come together for a common cause,” said Krishanti Dharmaraj, the Executive Director at CWGL.
From June 21-25, during the ILO Action Week on C190, the ILO has launched a global campaign “to promote the ratification and implementation” of the Convention. The Global 16 Days Campaign welcomes these recent developments and congratulates the ILO on C190’s entry into force. By marking its transition from 16 to 365 days of activism [as announced in 2020], the Campaign will continue to work closely with activists, governments, trade unions, human rights mechanisms, civil society organizations (CSOs), women’s rights organizations, the UN and other allies to elevate the issue of GBV in the world of work and to call for the ratification of C190.