Violence and harassment are an everyday reality for many women at work, especially those who are most at risk such as migrant women. SDG 5 calls for gender equality and one of its targets is to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including sexual violence and harassment at their workplace. SDG 8 calls for an inclusive economic growth for all by promoting safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 35% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in their communities or in the workplace in their lifetime. In some countries, the statistics are significantly higher. Gender-based violence in the world of work takes place in all industries and sectors, but no institution has collected comprehensive statistics due to inconsistent or limited national-level reporting and the inconsistent definitions of violence, harassment and workplace used by different institutions where such research does exist.
As per an EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) survey in 2014, most women who reported sexual harassment at work kept the incident to themselves, only 4 per cent reported it to the police, and only 4 per cent talked to an employer or manager about it. Less than 1% of women who described the most serious incident of sexual harassment that has happened to them, consulted a lawyer, a victim support organisation or a trade union representative.
In Greece, it is widely reported that up to 6 to 10 women have been victims of sexual harassment at work. However, along with the rising number of migrant women and undocumented workers, violence and harassment in the world of work might have doubled in the recent years. As countrywide gender-focused information and systematically collected sex-disaggregated data is severely lacking, little is known of the magnitude and types of violence and harassment encountered by working women. The incidents remain largely unreported, with many victims, bystanders and witnesses afraid or reluctant to come forward or unsure about how to do so.
This video by ActionAid Hellas is based on three real stories of women in Greece who have been harassed in their workplaces. The narrative depicts the shocking reality that many women face in their workplace and the disbelief that they face from their co-workers and society. Particularly migrant women experience multiple levels of discrimination as they are least likely to be believed, especially by public authorities.
At the centenary International Labour Conference of the United Nations on 10-21 June 2019 at Geneva, the first-ever global Convention to “Combat Violence and Harassment at Work” was adopted. The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work constitutes a human rights violation and a threat to equal opportunities; and is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work. It defines violence and harassment as behaviours, practices or threats that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm. It reminds Member States that they have a responsibility to promote a general environment of zero tolerance.
We urge all governments to ratify the convention and promote safe and decent work for all women.
We urge all citizens to speak out and take a firm stand on ending violence against women in their everyday life. #facesofmigration #stopGBVatwork
The Faces of Migration project is co-financed by the European Union. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.