The government has been urged to take concrete steps to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention 190 (C190) and Recommendation 206 to help address violence and harassment in workplaces.
This would protect workers, especially those in the informal sector, against various forms of abuse, including gender-based violence and harassment and improve the dignity, rights and freedoms of the vulnerable workers.
The Young Urban Women Movement (YUWM), a youth wing of ActionAid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Upper East Regional Chapter, made the call in a statement in Bolgatanga as part of advocacy to influence government to ratify the convention to promote decent working environment.
The young women marched through the principal streets of Bolgatanga holding placards with inscriptions, Ratify ILO C190, “Violence and harassment in the world of work is real, ratify ILO C190 now!”, “stop sex for jobs”, “protect women workers”, “violence is not part of the job”, “stop GBV at workplaces”, “let us end harassment at workplaces” among others.
Ms Dorcas Zoogah, the Regional Chairperson, YUWM, who read the statement, noted that young women, particularly those working in the informal sector, continued to experience various forms of violence, harassment and human rights violation at their workplaces and the situation needed urgent attention.
She said research conducted by ActionAid Ghana in 2018 revealed that about 44 per cent of young urban women working in the informal sector suffered repeated sexual oriented behaviour such as touching, rubbing or groping.
The study revealed further that about 49 per cent of young women had been sexually abused while 44 per cent had been harassed more than once at their workplaces.
This, Ms Zoogah explained, had been exacerbated by the economic crisis creating hardships among poor individuals and making some employers to take advantage of their workers or job seekers, particularly young urban women and underscored the urgent need to address the phenomenon.
“We have been witnessing an unacceptable rise in violence and harassment against workers especially in the informal economy. We have also seen an alarming surge in cases of domestic violence worldwide partly due to the effect of the economic downturn,” she added.
Ms Zoogah noted that apart from the 1992 Constitution and being a signatory to some International Conventions, including the United Nations Conventions on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) enjoining Ghana to protect the citizenry against all abuses, there was the need for government to ratify the ILO C190 and R206 to appropriately address challenges at workplace.
“ILO C190 and R206 set out clear steps that government and other social partners can take to mitigate the impact of domestic violence, including violence perpetuated against individuals who work at home.
While the attention of the government of Ghana is imperative for saving lives and livelihoods under threat due to this unprecedented pandemic, we urge the President of Ghana to see early ratification and implementation of C190 as part and parcel of response to curb violence and harassment at workplaces,” she added.
The ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 are the first international labour standards adopted in 2019 that specifically recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and sexual harassment.
The aim of the Convention on Violence and Harassment is to promote a general environment of zero tolerance to violence and harassment and to facilitate the prevention of such behaviour