The Missing Voice in the Fight to End Gender-Based Violence at Work

In the last week of May and first week of June 2018, trade unions, governments, and employers convened at the International Labor Organization’s 107th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva to negotiate an international standard on gender-based violence. The ILO Tripartite Committee ultimately decided to move forward towards trying to adopt a convention and recommendation at the close of negotiations in 2019.  However, the position of employers at the negotiating table remained ambivalent and the voice of multinational brands was missing.  

Despite research by the ILO and others showing patterns of gender-based violence across global value chains and sectors including garmenthospitalitydomestic work, and others, only a handful of corporate voices have spoken out in support of a convention – most recently from Gap and H&M. Indeed, the move toward a convention was adopted over the objection of employers.

Newly released research by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Global Labor Justice, and partners shows the importance of brands and employers joining with unions and governments to support a strong convention. Research findings call for brands to recognize violence and harassment and take steps to end these violations through an approach that brings worker organizations to the table.

The Spectrum of Gender-Based Violence at Work

In her piece, “From #metoo to a global convention on sexual harassment at work”, Cathy Feingold, the global director for the AFL-CIO, laid out the important initiative trade unions have taken to bring gender-based violence to the top of the ILO’s agenda. Additionally, their work has negotiated a strong convention that provides a framework for trade unions, employers, and governments to each play a role in eliminating gender-based violence in the workplace, broadly defined, and to strengthen freedom of association and worker organizations in critical ways. 

On 25 May 2018, our global coalition of trade unions,…

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