Panelists at UNCSW63.
Panelists at UNCSW63.

Stop gender-based violence in the world of work!

published 14 March 2019 updated 3 April 2019

Union women and feminist allies take the campaign for the adoption of an International Labour Organisation’s Convention to the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

An Education International (EI) delegation of sixteen female leaders and representatives from six countries is currently at participating in the first week of the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women(UNCSW63) in New York City. The priority theme of UNCSW63 is ‘Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls’.

With this year’s priority theme being of such importance for trade unions, it is no surprise that the wider labour delegation comprises an unprecedented 177 women from 42 countries!

A joint global unions statement highlights the key priorities that the labour delegates are lobbying to have included in the 2019 Agreed Conclusions, which is the annual outcome document of the UNCSW negotiations.

At yesterday’s global unions parallel event, speakers representing a number of unions were joined by civil society allies from the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership ( CWGL) and ActionAid International to bring the call for a binding International Labour Organisation( ILO) instrument on gender-based violence in the world of work. Negotiations in that process are also taking place in Geneva this week, where the workers’ group is under the influential stewardship of Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress.

In her opening remarks at the global union federations’ event, Dianne Woloschuk, member of the EI Executive Board, and Chair of the EI Status of Women Committee stated: ‘We need a binding ILO instrument aimed at ending the violence that education workers face in their schools, not guns in teachers’ hands!”

Drawing on evidence compiled by EI member organisation, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF/FCE), Dianne pointed out that depending on the jurisdiction, between 47% and 94% of teachers report that they had experienced violence themselves or witnessed incidents of violence at work. She also noted the school shooting which took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, just this week: seven people were killed, including an education support worker.

An ILO Convention and Recommendation on gender-based violence in the world of work is key to ensuring schools remain safe sanctuaries for educators and learners alike.

Click here to follow one teacher’s first experience of the UNCSW.