Workplace Policies on HIV and AIDS and the Right to Non-discrimination: Pilot Initiatives in Nepal

Article | 01 August 2008

Nepal - August 2008

Issues

Human rights violations increase the vulnerability to HIV. The protection of the right to non-discrimination as outlined by article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV. In the case of workers, the violation of this right can further lead to the loss of job security and livelihood. It is thus imperative that all HIV-related workplace policies specifically address the issues of stigma and discrimination.

Description

With the technical support of the International Labour Organization, 10 pilot enterprises in 6 sectors of the Nepalese economy have drafted and implemented HIV and AIDS Workplace Policies. The pilot enterprises, in particular Ami Apparels, Raghupati Jute Mills and Himal Iron, have been closely implementing the ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work with a focus on non-discrimination. When a comparative study was conducted in the project partner enterprises, it was found that the baseline proportion of 73% workers willing to work with HIV positive co-worker was significantly increased to 94.2 % post-intervention. Similarly, workers’ perception that employers should lay off HIV positive workers improved from 61.5%% to 81.9%.

Lessons learned

The violation of human rights of HIV positive workers can be greatly reduced through HIV and AIDS education and policy formulation, which can lead to the creation of a non-discriminatory environment at work and provide policy guidelines to the management. The comparative study of baseline and impact surveys also supports the fact that if HIV and AIDS education and policy are in place, both workers and management will reduce discriminatory attitudes and practices based on real or perceived HIV status.

Next steps

Expand advocacy for the protection of human rights of workers in Nepal through workplace policies that specifically address non-discrimination as an important component of our common efforts against HIV.

Archana Singh, National Project Coordinator, International HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme, Nepal, ILO

For more information, please contact Ms Malati Maskey, current National Project Coordinator, ILO HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme, Nepal, visitor1ktm@ilo.org