Feminists in the 1990s achieved a truly monumental breakthrough when they secured the formal recognition of women’s rights as human rights, and of violence against women as a human rights violation. This work continues, in new ways, as gender-based violence continues unabated. With an expanded and updated 16 Days campaign, we are gearing up for another breakthrough: adopting new, legally-binding international standards to eliminate gender-based violence in the world of work.
In 2015, the ILO — the only tripartite UN agency with government, employer, and worker representatives — decided to launch a standard-setting process on harassment and violence against women and men in the world of work, followed by a Meeting of Experts on violence against women and men.
In June 2018, the ILO began a series of discussions on a potential new ILO instrument on violence and harassment in the world of work at the International Labour Conference, in a committee composed of representatives from governments, employers, and worker unions.
In June 2019, the ILO committee will meet again to decide on the final content and what form the instrument will take: a legally binding convention, a non-legally binding recommendation, or a convention supplemented by a recommendation. We believe that the ILO should adopt the strongest possible instrument — a legally-binding convention supplemented by a recommendation. We demand an explicit and clear focus on gender-based violence. The convention should also include clear guidance for governments, employers, and trade unions to identify and eliminate discriminatory behaviors and address the discriminatory outcomes of unequal power relations that lie at the heart of gender-based violence.
To date the largest global advocacy campaign for the adoption of a strong convention on gender-based violence in the world of work has been led by unions and labor organizations. The feminist movement has largely been absent from these advocacy efforts, which is a gap we aim to address. As feminists we will strengthen the global demand for a convention by harnessing the power and leveraging the reach of the 16 Days Campaign, including by encouraging strong local and grassroots mobilization to demand that governments support the ILO’s adoption of a strong and inclusive convention supplemented by a recommendation in June 2019. Once a new instrument is adopted by the ILO, the advocacy will shift towards demanding government ratification of the convention and broad implementation in accordance with women’s human rights.