Stakeholders seek legal reforms to tackle gender-based violence in workplaces
Stakeholders have advocated legal reforms and enforcement of relevant laws and policies to stop gender-based violence in workplaces. They made the call at a two-day national programme for women in trade unions organised by the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in collaboration with pro-labour Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs) with support from the Solidarity Centre in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Empowering Working Women for a Safe and Inclusive World of Work’, Chairperson, TUC National Women Commission, Hafsat Shuaibu, said the programme was aimed at galvanising stakeholders to address critical issues faced by women in the world of work, with a focus on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work, promoting the integration and active participation of women with disabilities and fostering an inclusive environment for all women.
She said the ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (C190) presents a critical opportunity to reform laws and policies in Nigeria to address gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) and other forms of violence and abuse at work.
She said it equally presents expanded opportunities for practitioners to seek justice under existing law. She added that attempts would be made to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with concerned organisations and trade unions to ensure that the Implementation and Enforcement of ILO R206 are achieved.
Co-Convener of Campaign for Transformative Governance (CFTG), Jaye Gaskia, said there are plans by the group to partner with trade unions to develop a working women’s charter of engagement, which reflects the current needs and aspirations of women in trade unions and the broader workforce.
Stating that one of such is GBVH, he explained that it was a case, where there is a comprehensive audit of the status of workspaces across the country in terms of compliance. He said in ensuring justice on GBVH, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure justice could be achieved at no cost to the survivor.
“What makes a workspace insecure and unsafe for women? Why are women not included? Why do women choose not to be included in the public space and what are their fears and barriers?
“How do we operationalise safe spaces in the workplace, where one can confidently report abuse and be rest assured that the abuse would be treated? C190 and the accompanying framework is the solution to these,” he said.
He said for women with disabilities, with the charter as a campaign and with the Disabilities Act, “how comprehensively are we implementing it and how compliant are we with it?
“The Act is four years old, which gives a five-year window opportunity for transition to be made, so where are we at concerning the transition? Because at the end of the five-year transition, we must begin to see transition penalties for not complying with the Act. We will be launching a campaign through the year of transition to ensure that the gaps are reviewed and to ensure we can fill up and meet up and begin to see entities for infringement,” he added.
Country Programme Director, Solidarity Centre, Sonny Ogbuehi, said the centre, which saw the Federal Government ratifying the C190, would continue to push for its enforcement to ensure perpetrators do not go scot-free.
His counterpart and Programme Coordinator, GBVH, Solidarity Centre, Janet Anaele, who gave an overview and expected outcomes of the programme, said by amplifying women’s voices, eliminating violence and fostering inclusivity, the programme would pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive world of work, benefiting not only women in trade unions but society at large.
Adding her voice, a disabilities rights advocate, Ndifreke Andrew-Essien, said challenges of decent work and harassment have been a major concern to persons with disabilities.
She said bringing persons with disabilities into the conversation was to ensure inclusiveness while deliberating on issues around gender-based violence in the world of work and sensitising women on issues of disabilities.
She stated that with the signing of the disabilities law, the government should ensure more importance is attached to human rights issues and not just welfare or charity.
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