12 August 2018 International Youth Day / ITUC-AFRICA Youth Committee
Keywords : Activities Declarations Youth Work - Organising And Workers Empowerment

The Youth Committee of the African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) will celebrate International Youth Day 2018 with a focus on youth contribution on ending violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work. Violence against women and men in the world of work is an abuse of power that affects the most marginalized workers. It is an abuse of power and mostly affect workers in the most vulnerable work situations who have poor access to labour rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining, decent work, non-discrimination and access to justice. Women are disproportionately affected where unequal power relations, low pay, non-standard working conditions and other workplace abuses expose them to violence in the world of work.

August 12

Ending violence and harassment is at the top of the international agenda. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a process which could lead to the first international treaty to end violence and harassment in the world of work. In this effort, the ILO has placed great emphasis on the gender dimensions of violence and harassment, including the negative balance of power between men and women and the harmful gender roles that underpin violence and harassment. An ILO convention, accompanied with a recommendation, would address this gap and could lead the development of effective national laws and policies which would also further help to direct the responses to violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, as states more actively grapple with violence and harassment at work.

Furthermore, One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. It happens in every country and every society. It happens at home, in schools, on the streets, at work, on the internet and in refugee camps. It happens during war, and even in the absence of war. Too often, it is normalized and goes unpunished. No matter where violence against young women and men happens, what form it takes, and whom it impacts, it must be stopped. The promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, “to leave no one behind” cannot be fulfilled without ending violence against women.

It is important that we focus on how violence and harassment at work has been addressed through actions such as the training of safety and health representatives, agreements to form safety and health committees, and workplace programmes to address violence as a safety and health issue. Key issues raised by trade unions about the importance of safety and health representatives understanding the causes, consequences and ways of preventing discrimination-related violence and harassment at work, including intersectionality. There is a strong connection between access to decent work, non-discrimination and being protected by a trade union in preventing violence against women and men at work. It is important to include a variety of spaces which relate to the world of work when it comes to violence and harassment. Several ILO instruments consider the notion of the workplace to go beyond the physical place where work is done to include situations arising out of, or in the course or connection to, employment including commuting to and from work

Finally, young people can play a positive role in raising awareness about the need to fight sexual violence and widespread discrimination against women. In addition, they can shed light on the sheer scale of sexual harassment and other forms of violence that women face every day wherever they are. Breaking the silence is the first step to changing the culture of sexual violence.

Happy International Youth Day!
In solidarity

Jane Muthoni Njoki

Youth Committee President

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