On June 2019 a large tripartite majority of the International Labour Conference adopted the Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (C190) and Recommendation No. 206. The convention aims to end violence and harassment in the world of work and defines what constitutes violence and harassment and gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace. Recommendation 206 provides guidance implementing the Convention.
The adoption of C190 on June 25, 2021 is an historic opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect for all. The Convention articulates the rights of workers for a safe workplace and includes places linked with or arising out of work.
To support the ILO and advocate for all countries to implement the C190, NGOs at the United Nations formed the NGO Coalition to End Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (NGO Coalition). Last year, they issued a letter to all the Member States calling upon them to ratify C190, and to move resolutely towards effective implementation without delay. IBVM NGO endorsed this letter on our network’s behalf.
Eight member countries have ratified the convention and a further fifty-eight countries are reportedly engaging in processes with a view to ratification. To build on this momentum, the NGO Coalition, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the UN, held a very successful multi-stakeholder interactive dialogue of NGO Coalition members and civil society organisation (CSO) partners with Member States and UN Agencies on 8th September.
This dialogue provided an opportunity to share global and country experiences on the process of ratification of C190, review opportunities and challenges, explore strategies and develop action plans to intensify the campaign for its universal ratification and effective implementation.
The dialogue involved member states’ representatives including Liberian Vice-president Jewel Taylor, Fiji Ambassador Satyendra Prassad and Argentina Ambassador Maria del Carmen Squeff. Both Fiji and and Argentina have ratified C190. Ambassador Prassad encouraged the governments to ratify C190 and highlighted the importance of governments working with CSOs. Ambassador Squeff stated that C190 provides a road map for the elimination of violence and harassment. She shared their inter-ministerial approach to the implementation of the law.
Although Liberia has not ratified C190, Vice-president Taylor spoke strongly emphasising that countries need to send a strong signal that violence and harassment, especially against women, is longer acceptable and should not be condoned. It is a must for countries to ratify C190, she said, and indicated that she continues to work for the ratification by their parliament. Similarly, Joan Cedano from the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic said that they are campaigning to change the mind-set that violence is an acceptable way of life. They too are working towards its ratification by their government.
It is important to remember that the coverage of the convention is comprehensive, applying to all categories of workers (not just women and includes contractors, trainees, volunteers and management) and all types of workplaces. Effective implementation requires a whole of government and multi-stakeholder approach. There is also a range of legal and policy tools available to create safe and violence-free working environments, not only in criminal law but also Occupational Health and Safety laws and policies.
What can we the civil society organizations do? (Suggested by Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Employment Programme)
- Lobby government representatives, employers’, workers’ organizations, as well as Parliamentarians for the ratification of C190;
- Keep institutions accountable for national and global commitments made by governments concerning the ratification and implementation of C190;
- Develop, join and/or support international and national campaigns in support of the ratification and implementation of C190;
- Mobilize members and other civil society organizations to create a movement in support of C190;
- Make your voices heard offline and online, including by using the hashtag #RatifyC190.
The Mary Ward Family is present in over 40 countries and only Argentina and Mauritius have ratified C190. We invite you all to join us in advocating for the rights of all, especially women, at the workplace. Call on your governments to #RatifyC190!
Check if your country has ratified C190 here.
Learn about the #RatifyC190 Campaign here.