IWD 2021 – A World of Work free from gender-based violence and harassment

This International Women’s Day, EFFAT joins the international organisations IUF and ETUC calling all governments to promptly ratify the ILO Convention 190, coming into force on 25 June 2021.

As the first International Labour Standard to address violence and harassment at work, EFFAT calls on national governments to step up zero-tolerance measures and to recognise everyone’s right to a safe workplace.

Still too many workers do not enjoy this basic human right, freedom, and dignity. Many statistics show that violence at work affects a significant number of workers in Europe and beyond:

  • in Belgium, ACV-CSC sent out 51,000 questionnaires to domestic workers, with more than 7,000 replying, pointing to 15 rape cases as well as other serious forms of sexual harassment and violence,
  • a large-scale survey in Sweden by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) revealed that 26% of women and 14% of men have experienced some type of unwanted sexual behaviour in their workplace,
  • a survey of ETUC women trade union leaders carried out in 21 countries in January-February 2021 found, inter alia, that only 23% thought that employers did enough to tackle violence and harassment at work, including online. [1]
  • EFFAT, IUF, and other international unions OECD’s complaint against McDonald’s from last May exposed a systemic pattern of sexual harassment and gender-based violence involving fast food workers in seven countries. [2]

Kristjan Bragason, EFFAT General Secretary, said: “It is simply not acceptable for anyone to go to work in fear of violence. Women fall prey to gender-based sexual harassment far too often. Collective bargaining is crucial here.  It is important that trade unions and employers come to the negotiating tables ready to discuss clauses and policy drawing from ILO C190 and R206’.

Kerstin Howald, EFFAT political officer in charge of Gender Equality, commented: “This 8 March coincides with the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures to protect women from gender-based violence and sexual harassment have become even more important and must be equally applicable online. On top of this, we are already witnessing how this crisis, with the unintended consequences of lockdown, affects women twice as much as men. There is a serious risk for women to disengage from the labour market with a real threat to the basics of gender equality. Time to act is now!”

EFFAT has called on relevant authorities to address widespread sexual harassment and violence for many years, including in the workplace – and published its zero-tolerance recommendations for trade unions last year.

Diversity and Gender Equality will be the theme of the first of a series of training appointments in the framework of the large-scale EU-funded project Build trade union power to create a fairer Europe, led by EFFAT in partnership with the Programme for Workers’ Activities at the International Training Centre of the ILO. The first meeting will take place on 22 March 2021[3]


– ENDs

[1] ETUC press release on IWD 2021
[2] Video Fast Food Day of Action Against Sexual Harassment
[3] For information and registration, click here



Follow us

Read our last newsletter



Congress 2019