#IWD2020: International Women’s Day calls for action on violence against women

  • 09 Mar 2020

The NUJ calls on the UK and Irish governments to ratify the ILO Convention on violence against women.

The UK government must lead the way in ratifying the International Labour Organisation's convention on violence against women, the TUC Women's Conference agreed.

TUC research has found that more than half of all women in the UK experience sexual harassment at work. This is in addition to women who experience violence at home. Workplace harassment is increasing with the prevalence of zero-hour contracts in places not unionised.

A recent event for women photographers held by the NUJ heard evidence that many had experienced sexual harassment while working.

The 190 Convention requires nations to improve protections for all workers facing violence and harassment, including by clients or third-party contractors. A motion passed at conference called for a legally binding duty in the UK which would require employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent workplace harassment.

NUJ delegate and NEC member Natasha Hirst spoke to the motion saying the convention represented a significant victory for trade unionists. Last year she told conference about her own experience of sexual assault while working and this year, speaking to another motion on homelessness, described her experience of domestic violence, which shattered her life and took years away from her career as a photographer.

The NUJ together with the International Federation of Journalists is lobbying for ratification of the Convention and campaigns against and offers advice on stopping gender-based violence at work. Natasha Hirst said:

"The scope of the ILO Convention is amazing. It applies to the gig economy, freelances, apprentices and trainees as well traditional employer/workers relations. Crucially, it recognises that women and socially excluded groups are disproportionately affected by violence and harassment at work.
"It reinforces the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. It gives us a robust international framework which addresses the realities experienced by some of the world's most vulnerable and marginal workers.

Research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published to coincide with International Women's Day showed that only 23 per cent of the top editors across 200 international news outlets were women, despite that, on average, 40 per cent of journalists in the 10 markets are women.

These markets are South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea from Asia; Finland, Germany, and the United Kingdom from Europe; Mexico and the United States from North America; and Brazil from South America.

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