International aid agency CARE Australia is calling on governments, employers and workers to back a new global treaty aimed at curbing violence and harassment in the workplace.
The new measure is being debated this week in Geneva by members of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the global body tasked with protecting workers all over the world.
The push for global standards to protect women and men against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace is a culmination of CARE’s #ThisIsNotWorking campaign, which has garnered more than 100,000 signatures globally – from Australia to France, the UK, the USA and Ecuador.
CARE’s Head of Global Advocacy, Glen Tarman, said a legally binding convention to end violence and harassment at work offered a golden opportunity to turn the #MeToo and #Timesup movements into meaningful global change.
“Violence and harassment in the workplace is a global issue. It needs a global response. More than one-third of the world’s countries do not have any laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work and there is no international legal standard to specifically protect women at work from harassment and abuse. It’s time to put that right,” Mr Tarman said.
“The scope of the ILO Convention and Recommendation must reflect the needs of the women CARE supports, so the most marginalised global citizens – including garment workers, agriculture workers, domestic workers and those living in extreme poverty – have protections. We need governments, business and unions to support an ILO Convention – a legally binding treaty that can be taken forward in every country for women everywhere.”
Fifty per cent of the world’s working women are in vulnerable employment, often unprotected by labour legislation. In Asia that is as high as 80 per cent. Research conducted by CARE in Cambodia found that 1 in 3 garment workers faced violence and abuse in the last 12 months. CARE also found the productivity cost of sexual harassment in the garment industry is estimated at more than $117 million per year.
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. To find out more about #ThisIsNotWorking, go to www.caretoact.org.au.