For more than 10 years, union women who work at factories, on farms, in restaurants, taxis and offices campaigned for an international treaty to end gender-based violence at work. In 2019, they achieved a huge success when the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted Convention 190 to end violence and harassment at work.
Authors of a new book share these women’s stories on the latest Solidarity Center Podcast and describe the powerful movement they created collaborating with human rights, feminist, disability rights and other organizations around the world.
“We wanted to document this because there are such myths and stereotypes about who’s capable of doing this,” co-author Robin Runge tells podcast host and Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau.
“These are garment workers, domestic workers, agricultural workers from all over the world, and have been told their whole lives, ‘Well, you can’t do that. You can’t negotiate a global treaty.’ It’s absolutely false.”
Along with Runge and Jane Pillinger, co-authors of “Stopping Gender-Based Violence and Harassment at Work: The Campaign for an ILO Convention,” the episode highlights South African union activist Brenda Modise, who describes her experiences on the front lines of the campaign
“The thing about this convention is that it brings women together across the world, irrespective of your age, irrespective of your culture, irrespective of all the things. It doesn’t matter whether you speak English, you speak Portuguese, you speak French, it brings us together. As soon as you say C190, it brings women together and it makes a force,” says Modise.
“One of our main conclusions is that really remarkable things happen when women stand in their own power,” said Pillinger.
Adds Runge: “Only through collective action with freedom of association and collective bargaining is it really possible to truly prevent and eradicate gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work.”
Listen to this episode and all Solidarity Center episodes here or at Spotify, Amazon, Stitcher, or wherever you subscribe to your favorite podcasts.
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