The first legally binding global convention to addresses gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work has been adopted by the International Labour Organisation. 

The milestone was reached on June 21 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, when delegates at the 100th anniversary conference of the ILO overwhelmingly supported the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and the Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (non-binding recommendations that provide guidance on the convention’s obligations).

“The new standards recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.”  

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General


“Governments, workers, and employers have made history by adopting a treaty that sets standards for ending the scourge of violence and harassment in the world of work,” said Rothna Begum, in a statement from Human Rights Watch.

The ILO is the only tripartite United Nations agency which brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member states  to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work. The organisation spent two years negotiating the text of the violence and harassment convention.

“The women who bravely spoke up about their #MeToo abuses at work have made themselves heard at this negotiation, and their voices are reflected in these important new protections.” 

Rothna Begum, Human Rights Watch

The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work ‘can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.’

It defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.”

It is the first time in the ILO’s hundred year history that a convention on the workplace has focused on gender based violence and its direct link to gender discrimination, according to the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University in the US.

CWGL applauded the creation of the ILO instrument but CWGL says it would also like to see gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work recognized as a human rights violation

“There’s an obligation for governments to now ratify and implement this Convention and for employers to prevent and remedy violence and harassment in a way that advances the human rights of women workers …”

Krishanti Dharmaraj, Executive Director of CWGL.

As the global coordinator of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (16 days) CWGL will release an updated toolkit to support organisations mobilising for the ratification and strong implementation of the convention.

The Internatonal Federaton of Journlaists also welcomed the adoption of the convention, which it says will strengthen the labour rights of media workers around the world.

“Urgent action is needed: our statistics demonstrate that at least one in every two journalists has suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and other forms of human rights abuses.

Internatonal Federaton of Journalsts

The IFJ says it will keep on working towards the adoption of a UN Convention on the Safety of Journalists.

The new international labour standard aims to protect workers and employees, irrespective of their contractual status, and includes persons in training, interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants.

At the ILO gathering, out of 476 votes, 439 delegates voted for the convention to end gender based violence and harassment. 7 delegates, from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia and Singapore voted against. The United States reversed its decision from last year and voted in favour of the convention. 30 more delegates, many from South American countries, abstained.

The convention will enter into force 12 months after two member States have ratified it. 

Pic above: Mr Rakesh Patry, Government Delegates, Director-General, International and Intergovernmental Labour Affairs, Labour Program, ESDC, Ms Marie Clarke-Walker, Workers’ Delegate, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, Ms Alana Matheson, Employers’ Delegate, Associate Director, People and Change, KPMG, and Hon. Colin E. JORDAN, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, on the occasion of the Adoption of the outcomes of the Standard Setting Committee: violence and harassment in the world of work. 108th (Centenary) Session of the International Labour Conference. Geneva, 21 June 2019. Photo :copyright: Crozet / Pouteau




afghanistan safety poster

Promoting a New Generation of Female Media Leaders 

By Maryam Bahar Sadat

A ceremony held in Kabul has marked the completion of  IAWRT Afghanistan’s (AWRT-K) seven-month project to enhance the skills and influence of women journalists

The event opened with discussion of the project’s impact and the ideas of speakers from the leadership of the Afghanistan Journalists Federation. The USAID Rasana project was run in cooperation with the Afghanistan Women Journalists Union (AWJU) and the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ).


During the ceremony, the second-tier leaders of each organization which participated in different voluntary activities were awarded for their dedication to serving women journalists.


Pic: From Left to Right: Lida Ahmadi, Hajira Karimi, Laila Noorani, IAWRT Project Manager, Maryam Bahar Sadat, Shabnam Popalzai, Malala Maiwand and Freshta Faizi


The  Rasana Project with Internews involved two phases, the first, developing gender policy for the Federation of Afghan Media Associations and Entities and implementation of that policy, and secondly, the training of second-tier leaders.


The first activity was aimed at strengthening the presence and influence of women in the media within the federation, which is made up of 15 journalist unions and support groups.


By firstly hosting a federation meeting, AWRT-K raised awareness of members about gender inclusion and facilitated discussion on gender inclusivity in federation policies along with strategies for implementation of the developed strategy.


  • An action plan for implementation of gender policy within the federation was developed and it is being followed up in each federation meeting until it’s practiced.
  •  AWRT-K worked with federation members to include gender inclusive policy in federation regulations and to ensure the implementation of policy across the board
  • AWRT-K gained the commitment of federation members to implement the gender inclusive policy and developed a hotline email for complaints from women journalists all over Afghanistan which will be led by the three women journalist organizations (AWRT, AWJU, CPAWJ).
  • Established a Gender Focal Point position to monitor the activities of the federation from a gender perspective. Ms. Farida Nikzad the Director of CPAWJ was assigned in cooperation with AWRT-K to act as a Gender Focal Point for the federation.


In the second activity, AWRT-K worked to develop second-tier leadership within women journalist support groups to ensure better representation of women as well as to sustain efforts within the federation to improve the status of women journalists.


  • Through conducting a workshop on women journalist leadership skills, along with identifying the challenges of women journalist in Afghanistan. We selected six young women journalists as second-tier leaders from Kabul, Parwan and Nangarhar.


  • A strategy for capacity building of second-tier leaders – developing their knowledge and leadership skills in the media sectors by assigning them small research projects, and through attending different programs, training and seminars, including short English courses.


  • Two-page safety guideline brochure and a poster were developed by AWRT-K in local languages which will be disseminated all over Afghanistan for women journalists and media entities. 


Pic right: IAWRT Afghanistan safety guideline poster for women journalists in the Dari language, with advice on how to keep tehmselves safe by following some small points, including wearing sensible footwear, a wedding ring to repel unwanted advances, staying in contact with employers and when to take shelter.


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Active Women in The Media

Fostering a New Generation of Women in The Afghan Media