Mr Joshua Ansah, Deputy Secretary-General, Trades Union Congress (TUC), has called on the government to ratify the ILO Convention 190 as it joins in commemorating the UN’s “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign.
He said the Convention would contribute to upholding the principles of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining through the protection of a critical mass of a workforce, who have been vulnerable due to gender-based violence.
Mr Ansah made the call at an event to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism in Accra organised by the TUC.
The Convention 190 is the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment and was adopted in June 2019.
Governments that ratify C190 will be required to put in place the necessary laws and policy measures to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work.
The Convention represents an historic opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect for all
Mr Ansah entreated stakeholders to support the process, while exerting pressure on policy makers to ratify the Convention.
“I will want you all to recognise that the agency that can never be taken away from the vulnerable is the agency of people’s power, which is rooted in organising and campaigning on the principles of ‘noting for us without us,’” he said.
He said every year, governments and civil society organisations commemorated the “16 Days of Activism” with diverse activities to highlight the challenges and barriers towards creating safe spaces for women worldwide.
The Deputy Secretary-General said the convention was historic and inclusive as it bordered on issues with implications on the political, economic, and social well-being of workers, of which the majority are women.
Mr Ansah said according to the 2017/18 Amnesty report, gender-based violence had resulted in “discrimination, marginalisation and abuse of women and girls, often arising from culture and traditions, and mostly institutionalised by unjust laws.”
According to a UN report in 2016, the cost of violence against women amounts to USD1.5 trillion globally, where the World Bank in a 2018 report found that violence against women could cost up to 3.7 per cent of GDP in some countries.
Again, according to the Ghana 2016 survey on domestic violence, 27.7 per cent of Ghanaian women had experienced at least one form of domestic violence: physical, economic, psychological, social, and sexual violence.
Mr Ansah said this confirmed the importance of the work the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, the Labour Department, Trade Unions and other CSOs engaged in the adoption of this Convention by the ILO.
He said friendly policies and legislations that were inclusive of voices of women workers, from dress codes to seeking redress in sexual harassment policies and committees were much needed, as we increase mechanisms to break the silence about gender-based violence at the workplace.
Mr Ansah added that, “As women workers continue to battle for recognition in representation, participation, and equal employment opportunities in the world of work, this convention comes as an added tool to protect working women against such violence.”
Mr Theodore Mawuli Amegah, Director of Policy Planning at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, said the convention 190 was important because the prevalence of violence harassment affected participation in the labour market.
He said the Ministry submitted the Convention to cabinet last month for consideration and expressed the hope that stakeholders would be invited to make a case for the ratification.
“We will do so in collaboration with all the stakeholders, particularly the Office of the Attorney General and Parliament,” he added.
Madam Afusata Salifu, a Member of the National Women’s Committee, GAWU-TUC, Ghana, said sex and financial discrimination and violence remained a prevalent form of gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace.
She said for several years, the National Unions of GAWU continued to use collective bargaining agreements as a tool to strengthen protection for workers against harassment and violence at workplaces.
Ms Bugge Tuva Grimsaeth, a Representative from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, said they were working tirelessly to combat modern slavery, forced, child labour, and human trafficking, which affect women and girls.
She said modern slavery was driven by power imbalances and worsened by gender equality and discrimination embedded in our lives and society.
Ms Grimsaeth called for collaboration with the government on the provision of safety nets the most vulnerable.