A New Treaty To Protect Workers Against Violence And Harassment Is A Landmark Victory For Women

A huge step has been made towards protecting women all over the world from harassment and violence in the workplace. The International Labour Organization (ILO) confirmed a new Violence and Harassment Convention and corresponding Recommendation on June 21 – the last day of their annual conference in Geneva – after 439 delegates voted in favour of the standard (there were just 7 ‘against’ votes and 30 abstentions).

This treaty is a particular triumph for women as it defines violence and harassment as threats or practices that “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” This means that women will finally gain better protection not just from physical harm, but from psychological harm as well. It marks an official acknowledgement that such behaviour can, in the words of the ILO, ‘constitute a human rights violation or abuse… is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.” Conduct that was once deemed harmful but inevitable will finally be recognised as illegal by the governments that bring this treaty into enforcement.


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