Union women are not waiting for their governments to ratify Convention 190, the international treaty that addresses gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work—they are taking action now to ensure workers benefit from the powerful rights it provides, according to Rita Goyit, speaking on this week’s Solidarity Center Podcast.

“We are taking concrete measures while we wait for the ratification,” says Goyit, head of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) Department of Women and Youth and secretary of the NLC’s National Women Commission.

With support of the NLC and Solidarity Center, union activists conducted an informal survey of more than 900 women workers in Abuja and Lagos and found 57 percent had experienced GBVH at work, yet 20 percent did not report it for fear of employer retaliation.

“What was common about the story is that sexual harassment, gender-based violence exists in the workplace,” Goyit tells Solidarity Center Executive Director and podcast host Shawna Bader-Blau. “And it was not treated as a workplace issue.”

Through outreach and training, Nigerian unions are reaching workplaces as diverse as garment factory floors and sprawling informal markets, where workers put in place what works for them, like anonymous suggestion boxes to report harassment.

Goyit says union women are developing strategies that “will really address gender-based violence in the workplace because this is a worker-specific issue, it’s coming from with the workers ourselves.

“We’re putting our heads together until we find the solution … because the women are with us. Because I feel strong when I see the other women around me in our campaigns, in the negotiations that we do.”

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