ILO Office for Türkiye and social partners, civil society, private sector come together for a world of work in line with C190 to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work

Coming together at an event of broad-based participation organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Türkiye to prevent violence at work, social partners, civil society and private sector called for the “ratification of ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190)” to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work including violence against women.

News | 30 November 2022
On 30 November 2022, the ILO Office for Türkiye organized a broad-based meeting in Ankara with the participation of social partners, private sector and civil society who engaged work to implement ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190)” to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work including violence against women.

The event “Preventing Violence against Women in the World of Work - Second Experience-Sharing Forum” discussed the work undertaken by the ILO Office for Türkiye, social partners, private sector and civil society since the adoption of C190 in 2019. The speakers underlined the importance and guiding nature of C190 in preventing violence and harassment in the world of work including violence against women, also pointing to the importance of implementation of the Convention.

Mr. Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Türkiye, said violence and harassment was a major problem for women working in every country, in every sector, in all jobs formal or informal and that precarious work conditions and informal work put women in higher risk of violence and harassment.

“One in Every Three Women Reported Experiencing Physical, Psychological or Gender Violence”

Özcan said “Violence and harassment at work is one of the major barriers to women accessing or remaining in employment or advancing to higher positions. In that sense, the strong emphasis by C190 that there shall be no tolerance for gender-based discrimination is of critical importance.”

“One in every three women reported experiencing physical, psychological or gender violence at some time in their lives. On the other hand, only 40% of women who were exposed to violence could report the offence or receive some form of support. Strong will and cooperation among the actors of the world of work to eliminate such a global and deep-rooted problem become all the more important.”

Özcan said Since the adoption of C190 in 2019 we have been closely observing the works undertaken by our distinguished partners who shape the world of work in Türkiye or collaborating with them on such work to show zero tolerance for violence and harassment in the world of work.”

“Efforts by Social Partners, Private Sector and Civil Society so Valuable while Convention not yet Ratified”

“We come across every day some set of articles of collective labour agreements or workplace or trade union policy papers adopted, training programmes or awareness-raising efforts being executed and publications being released in line with a Convention not yet ratified by Türkiye. Each instance or step of such work advanced by social partners, private sector and civil society is extremely valuable and critically important in preventing violence and harassment in the world of work.

“We have now a strong instrument at our hands, in the form of C190, to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work. It offers a comprehensive instrument to be applied at all spheres of work and even beyond the physical spaces defined as workplace as well as for all workers, sectors and for all jobs formal or informal. It is now high time to act,” Özcan added.

“Progress on labor standards is a multistakeholder process that takes time”

His Excellency Staffan Herrström, Ambassador of Sweden to Ankara, said: “ILO Convention No.190 is the most recent international standards adopted on gender equality. We are very happy to see that under our ongoing project with ILO the workers organisations, trade unions and trade union confederations are taking steps towards application of the C190 which have strong contribution to the creation of an atmosphere towards decent working conditions for all.”

“In this scope, we observe that zero tolerance to violence policy documents are being adopted; clauses in line with C190 are included in collective labour agreements, which I must say that are extremely important for working life in Türkiye, while C190 has not been ratified yet. In addition to worker’s organizations, private sector companies have also been strengthening their efforts to eliminate workplace violence against women” added Staffan Herrström.

“Progress on labor standards is a multistakeholder process that takes time. But it is progress for all of society, for the safety of all workers, men and women, for gender equality and the economic benefits that come with increased female participation in the labor market.”

“Violence against Women at the Top of the EU’s Agenda”

H.E. Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Head of EU Delegation to Türkiye said: “Violence against women and girls is a brutal form of discrimination, a human rights violation, that prevents women and girls from being equal and active members in the society. Violence and harassment in the world of work is also a threat to equal opportunities. Eliminating violence against women and advancing women’s rights and gender equality is at the top of the EU’s agenda, including within our activities in our partner countries.”

“We should strive for a holistic approach, i.e. solid legislation and proper implementation, conduct of surveys, data collection, awareness raising at different levels about the reality of violence and harassment at work and what it means, change of mentality and gender stereotypes”.

“ILO C190 includes Certain Elements that Builds Security Mechanisms”

Ms. Canan Güllü, Chair of Federation of Women Associations of Türkiye (TKDF), said: “We are here today as an event of collaboration to speak about, promote and ensure implementation of ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) which prescribes that everyone has the right to a working environment free of violence and harassment including those gender-based ones and that it is unacceptable for and incompatible with decent work,”

“The most important aspect of C190 is that it includes certain elements that builds security mechanisms that enable access to preventive and protective mechanisms against domestic and workplace violence. The Convention also strengthens the process through inclusive and holistic policies which make women’s employment sustainable and enhance labour productivity. “

“We are working for a violence-free world of work along with cooperating local governments, trade unions and private sector with which we have signed protocols,” Canan Güllü added.

“One in three women exposed to violence in the world”

Many women today lack access to the world of work due to violence, or even if they can access, they may end up leaving work or fail to pursue career goals due to psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence and harassment at work. The underlying causes of women’s failure to participate in the world of work at equal rates with men include gender inequalities in the society and at work, gender stereotypes and roles, more women’s involvement in precarious and informal forms of work as well as violence and harassment at work.

Women are more exposed to violence and harassment than men both at work and in private life. The estimates released by the World Health Organization show that about one in three women (30%) are exposed to some form of physical and/or sexual violence. The 2019 data from the International Labour Organization estimate that 42% of women in front-line jobs experience violence from third parties.

ILO Office for Türkiye launched advocacy and policy initiative

Against this backdrop, the ILO Office for Türkiye launched in March 2022 an Advocacy and Policy Initiative to achieve the ratification and implementation of C190 by Türkiye, ensure that the issue be higher on the agenda of public at large and social partners, share information on preventing violence and harassment against women at work in Türkiye, and raise awareness.

In the context of this initiative, launched under the “More and Better Jobs for Women Programme” implemented by the ILO Office for Türkiye with funding from Sweden, and being executed with contributions from labour unions, private sector and civil society organizations, a C190 Working Group was formed including academicians and civil society representatives of various expertise; meetings and experience sharing forum were held; and a series of awareness-raising/advocacy work was undertaken.

Social partners owned C190 and furthered relevant work

The first session of the Experience-Sharing Forum was held on 31 March 2022, and the second on 30 November 2022 as a part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, where the representatives from social partners, private sector and civil society shared their works and experience on C190.

In the three years following the adoption of C190 in 2019, many parties including particularly trade unions carried out broad-based campaigns for the ratification of the Convention as yet not ratified by Türkiye, and undertook comprehensive work to incorporate the articles of C190 in their agenda. As a result, collective agreements were signed, workplace and trade unions policy papers were formulated incorporating the articles of C190; and initiatives were undertaken to raise awareness for preventing gender-based violence at work.

About C190

Aiming to achieve a world of work free of violence and harassment, Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (No. 206) were adopted in the International Labour Conference of 2019. Thereby, violence and harassment at work are defined for the first time, in the binding force of an international treaty, as “a violation of human rights and a threat to equal opportunities”.

The Convention recognizes that women are more likely to experience violence and harassment at work, and places special emphasis on incidents of violence and harassment at certain sectors. C190 addresses domestic violence in terms of its impact on the world of work. It makes particular note that violence can prevent women from accessing, remaining or advancing in labour markets.

Having entered into force in 2021, C190 has to date been ratified by 22 member states.