International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2023
The NUJ sends a message of solidarity to women and girls worldwide who experience violence in many forms. All forms of abuse and violence are violations of women’s human rights and an obstacle to achieving equality.
This campaign, led by the UN Secretary-General and UN Women since 2008, aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world, calling for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.
Key facts on violence against women and girls:
- More than 5 women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their family.
- In 2021, nearly 1 in 5 women aged 20-24 were married before turning 18.
- One in three women have been subjected to violence at least once in their lifetime.
A survey by UNESCO and the International Centre for Journalists reported that 73 per cent of women journalists who responded said they had experienced online violence, and 20 per cent said they had been attacked or abused offline in connection with online violence they had experienced. The final version of this research carried out by 24 researchers in 16 countries, described the impact of online abuse as having a “chilling effect” on women journalists’ “active participation (along with that of their sources, colleagues and audiences) in public debates”. The abuse led to journalists removing themselves from social media networks and avoiding reporting on certain subjects. Irene Khan, the UN Rapporteur on freedom of expression, described the silencing of women’s expression as a form of “gendered censorship”.
Online abuse can cross over into offline situations. At a conference organised by the International Federation of Journalists last year Julie Posetti, a senior International Centre for Journalists’ researcher and co-author of the Unesco report, said while online abuse has a significant psychological impact, in other cases such as that of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia there was a direct link to her murder. The research found that 41 per cent of the abuse was part of orchestrated disinformation campaigns by government states.
The NUJ welcomed the UK’s ratification of the UN treaty ILO 190 in 2021 which recognises “the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment”. Equality Council member, Mindy Ran said: “Trade unions, through umbrella organisations such as the International Trade Union Confederation and the Global Union Federations that include the International Federation of Journalists, lobbied the ILO for more than a decade for this convention. We need to call on governments to implement.”
The UK’s failure to implement this treaty in domestic legislation, leaves workers and freelances especially with inadequate protection or access to justice.
The IFJ has published a set of guidelines for media and unions to combat online harassment of women journalists. The NUJ is working with the IFJ to promote ILO Convention 190 on harassment and violence at work. The convention provides a framework and blueprint for unions to use as part of collective bargaining and workplace polices for all workers, freelance and staff and includes domestic abuse.
Abuse targeted at women
A UK Government survey in 2021 showed that 1 in 3 female journalists in the UK do not feel safe in their job. NUJ members explain how they have been subject to misogynist abuse in a video. "I have no doubt that being a woman elicits a higher level of abuse than I see targeted at male court reporters." Watch the full clip below.
The NUJ's mobile safety app provides instant access to provide information to help women who are experiencing abuse online and in person, and ways to protect and prevent these attacks. As a member of the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, the NUJ is spearheading the launch of a tracker so journalists will be able to report incidents of abuse when they occur.
The NUJ is asking you to take part the #IDEVAW day of action to promote awareness of violence against women. As journalists we must all play a vital role in increasing the understanding of violence against women and ask governments why they are failing to protect their nation’s women and girls. As trade unions we must work to make workplaces and work safe for female journalists.
The last Delegate Meeting committed the union to: encourage employers to put domestic abuse policies and support mechanisms in place' provide chapel reps and branches with the tools to lobby employers to put domestic abuse policies in place and know the steps to take should a member disclose abuse; and to encourage all members to look out for each other and endeavour to make our events, branches and chapels safe and inclusive spaces.
The TUC has produced a piece of interactive learning, to explain the extent of domestic violence, who it affects and what union reps can do to help.
NUJ president and domestic abuse survivor, Natasha Hirst said:
“As well as protecting women from work-based abuse and harassment, we encourage employers to have policies and processes in place to support women who are experiencing domestic abuse. We know that domestic abuse, including financial abuse, can affect anyone regardless of profession, educational attainment or background.
“Domestic abuse rates intensified during the covid-19 pandemic and where hybrid and home working is commonplace, women are presented with fewer opportunities to seek support or sanctuary at work. Domestic abuse can significantly impact on women at work through performance or absence levels.
“My branch was a source of personal and professional support for me when I was putting my freelance career back together after fleeing abuse. I encourage our branches and chapels to ensure they provide safe spaces and opportunities for members to improve skills and confidence and be aware of other sources of support.”
The NUJ’s campaigning and lobbying highlights the intersectional nature of the abuse and injustice that women journalists experience.
What you can do:
- Help raise awareness by sharing our resources online on Saturday 25 November.
- Sign up for reps’ training and our regular reps’ briefings to share your concerns and seek advice on action you can take in your workplaces, including protecting freelances.
- Join our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion network for updates, resources and information sharing. Email [email protected]
- Encourage employers to take action to protect the safety of women at work, including domestic abuse policies, pay campaigns and robust health and safety assessments that include late and lone working risks.
- Invite a member of the NUJ’s Equality Committee to your branch to discuss the NUJ’s work and campaigns on women’s rights.
- Men can #MakeThePromise to “never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women” and take part in the White Ribbon Campaign
If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of domestic abuse you can get in touch with NUJ Extra to seek support, either directly or through your branch welfare officer.
The NUJ contributed towards the development of the Zero Tolerance media guidelines and resources for journalists who report on violence against women and we encourage all to take the time to read and use the resources.
The Femicide Census collects the numbers of women who have been killed in the UK and the men who have killed them. The killings of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were deeply shocking, but the vast majority of women are killed by someone they know within the domestic sphere.
Women media workers also need to make sure they are safe during their domestic and working lives. NUJ is a member of the government's National Committee for the Safety and Protection of Journalists and is working on an action plan to prevent violence against media workers. Over one in three female respondents to a government survey. (November 2021) said they do not feel safe operating as a journalist. We encourage members to get in touch with us if they have concerns about approaching police officers for support if they feel unsafe when working.
A TUC report showed that 7 in 10 disabled women workers have experienced sexual harassment.