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Tackling male violence against women and girls in work and in society

Earlier this month, to mark International Women's Day, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Women’s Committee held a webinar to discuss how unions are developing policies to support victims of domestic abuse as well as supporting members who have experienced sexual harassment.

Fri 25th March 2022 The PDA

The lunchtime webinar, attended by PDA National Officer for Northern Ireland, Una O’Farrell, also examined practical ways trade unions could use the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention.

What is ILO Convention No.190?

The ILO is a tripartite U.N. agency and brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 countries to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. Participation in the ILO is one way through which trade unions make a difference globally.

ILO Convention No. 190 is the first international treaty to recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

Una O’Farrell said, “I had no idea what ILO Convention No.190 was or what it related to, but I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to educate myself via this lunchtime webinar ran by ICTU to celebrate International Woman’s Day.

The convention lobbies and aims to highlight everyone’s right to work in a world free from violence and harassment, and leverages that the workplace can and should provide support to women who are suffering from domestic abuse. It tackles the practical issues of childcare and time spent out of the workplace and ensures that there are no professional penalties, something that should be on the radar of all unions.”

The online event titled ‘How do we tackle male violence against women and girls in work and in society?’ took place on Monday 7 March 2022. Keynote speakers included:

  • Patricia King, ICTU General Secretary
  • ICTU Women’s Committee Joint Chairs Geraldine Alexander and Margaret Coughlan
  • Marieke Koning, International Trade Union Confederation
  • Mandy La Combre and Eileen Gorman, Financial Services Union
  • Carol Scheffer, CWU
  • Maxine Murphy Higgins, NASUWT.

Una went on to say, “The webinar concluded with a case study that beautifully highlighted the inherent injustice of the current regime: A working woman had been a victim of an up-skirting incident. Under current culture and legislation, there is no protection for victims of such incidents. More so, the crime falls under public indecency, ignoring the wrong, harm, and trauma experienced by the individual. It served as a stark reminder of why this work is so very necessary.”

Members who experience any sort of harassment or other forms of violence in the workplace can contact the PDA Service Centre for advice.

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