The UK government pledge to end violence in the workplace

8 March 2022

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The UK government has taken a key step to end workplace violence against women – others must follow.

This International Women’s Day, ActionAid UK welcomes the decision from the UK Government to officially ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention 190 (ILO C190), which aims to end violence and harassment in the workplace.

The ILO C190, which was adopted globally in June 2019, requires governments to put in place the necessary laws and policies to prevent and address violence and harassment at work. It is a strong step towards tackling violence and standing up for the rights of women and girls globally. ActionAid now urges the government to fully implement the convention.

Violence and harassment in the workplace is pervasive worldwide and adversely impacts women and girls. In the UK alone, 40% of women have experienced sexual harassment during their career.1 During Covid-19, harassment in the workplace intensified in the UK and globally. Data shows that almost a quarter of women in the UK cited that harassment had increased or escalated since the start of the pandemic while they were working from home.2

ILO research shows that ‘casual workers’ and informal sector workers face particularly high risks of violence and harassment. These kinds of roles are particularly common in the Global South, in Africa 85.8% of employment is informal and out of the two billion workers in informal employment worldwide, just over 740 million are women.3

While the UK has taken a huge step forward in ratifying the convention, it joins just a small handful of countries that have done so. Therefore, this International Women’s Day, ActionAid is calling on governments worldwide to ratify and implement this important convention and address the unacceptably high levels of violence against women and girls in the workplace.

Anne Quesney, the Senior Women’s Rights Advocacy Adviser, ActionAid UK said:

“Globally, at least 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence and harassment are pervasive, including in the world of work, and impact every aspect of women and girls’ lives. We must introduce measures that address the systemic, structural causes of gender-based violence. That’s why ActionAid UK is delighted to see that the UK government has ratified ILO C190 and we now urge the government to fully implement the convention. We will also continue to work with colleagues internationally to urge other governments to ratify. Every woman and girl deserves a world free of violence.”



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