Home » Women’s Group Urges Government to End Workplace Harassment

Women’s Group Urges Government to End Workplace Harassment

The treaty aims to protect workers in both formal and informal sectors from abuse and discrimination.

by Motoni Olodun

A women’s group in Ghana has called on the government to ratify a global treaty that aims to prevent and address gender-based violence and harassment in workplaces. The Young Urban Women Movement (YUWM), a wing of Action Aid Ghana, said the treaty would protect workers in both formal and informal sectors from abuse and discrimination.

The treaty, known as Convention 190, was adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2019 and came into effect in 2021. It is the first international standard to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

The YUWM appealed for a stakeholder engagement in Accra on Thursday, as part of the activities marking the “16 Days of Activism Against GBV” in 2023. The annual global event seeks to end violence against women and girls.

According to a study by Action Aid, 44 percent of young urban women in the informal sector in Ghana suffered harassment in the form of rubbing, touching, and groping. The research also revealed that 49 percent had been sexually abused, while 41 percent had been sexually harassed more than once.

The YUWM Chairperson, Madam Hawa Tasala Gariba, said that such trends typically pushed women away from work, rendered them jobless, and made them poor and unable to achieve their life goals. She said that ratifying Convention 190 would create a safe working environment for women and safeguard their right to work.

Madam Agnes Simpey, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations’ Gender Desk, said that the Ministry had made significant efforts to ensure that the Convention is ratified. She said that since the adoption of the Convention in Geneva in July 2019, the Ministry had engaged critical bodies like Parliament and Cabinet to see to the ratification of the Convention.

Madam Simpey assured participants at the meeting that the Convention would be ratified to enable women to enjoy their rights and freedom to work.

Madam Eugenia Ayishitu Ayagiba, Campaign Manager, Women’s Rights, Action Aid Ghana, outlined why AAG invests in movements such as YUWM and other GBV activities, saying the goal was to persuade the government to invest in social services. She said that, despite the country’s current challenges, the government should not ignore critical social services, such as funding initiatives aimed at ending domestic violence.

Madam Ayagiba noted that women make up a sizable proportion of Ghana’s workers and contribute significantly to the economy. “It is therefore important they work in an environment devoid of harassment and other forms of GBVs,” she said.

The Labour Department and the Domestic Violence Secretariat, both under the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, also committed to helping in the ratification of the Convention.

Ghana is among the nine African countries that have ratified the Convention so far, joining the Central African Republic, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, and Uganda. The ratification of the Convention is seen as a step towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The YUWM hopes that the ratification of the Convention will inspire other countries to follow suit and create a world where women can work without fear of violence and harassment.

Source: GhanaWeb

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