Womens’ group tells gov’t to ratify convention on sexual harassment

The Young Urban Women Movement (YUWM) has called on the government to ratify Convention 190, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) treaty to prevent and address gender-based violence (GBV) and harassment at workplaces.

When adopted, the Convention, according to YWUM Chairperson Madam Hawa Tasala Gariba, will provide a framework for dealing with workplace violence and harassment.

It would also protect workers in the formal and informal sectors, as well as those living in urban and rural areas, from abuse and harassment.

Madam Gariba made the appeal at a stakeholder engagement in Accra on Thursday.

The engagement is part of the activities marking the “16 Days of Activism Against GBV” in 2023.

The “16 Days of Activism Against GBV” is an annual global event which seeks an end to violence against women and girls.

Madam Gariba said that a study undertaken by Action Aid on young urban women in the informal sector found that 44 per cent of such women suffered harassment in the form of rubbing, touching, and groping.

The research also revealed that 49 per cent had been sexually abused, while 41 percent had been sexually harassed more than once.

According to her, those unfavorable trends typically pushed women away from work, render them jobless, and make them poor and unable to achieve their life goals.

Madam Gariba said though the YUWM, a wing of Action Aid Ghana, had undertaken several initiatives like advocacy, campaigns, and engagement to end gender-based violence at work, the issue persists.

That is why YUWM was urging the government to ratify the Convention, she said.

She said the ratification of Convention 190 would create a safe working environment for women and safeguard their right to work.

Madam Agnes Simpey, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations’ Gender Desk, said that the Ministry had made significant efforts to ensure that the Convention is ratified.

She said since the execution of the Convention in Geneva in July 2019, the Ministry had engaged critical bodies like Parliament and Cabinet to see to the ratification of the Convention.

Madam Simpey assured participants at the meeting that the Convention would be ratified to enable women enjoy their right and freedom to work.

Madam Eugenia Ayishitu Ayagiba, Campaign Manager, Women’s Rights, Action Aid Ghana, outlined why AAG invests in movements such as YUWM and other GBV activities, saying the goal was to persuade the government to invest in social services.

She said that, despite the country’s current challenges, the government should not ignore critical social services, such as funding initiatives aimed at ending domestic violence.

Madam Ayagiba noted that women make up a sizable proportion of Ghana’s workers and contribute significantly to the economy.

“It is therefore important they work in an environment devoid of harassment and other forms of GBVs,” she said.

The Labour Department and the Domestic Violence Secretariat, both under the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, also committed to help in the ratification of the Conversation.

On June 21, 2019, the 108 Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, adopted the ILO Convention 190.

Several nations have ratified the convention since it came into effect on June 25, 2021.

Within Africa, 9 countries have so far ratified the convention. They are Central African Republic, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, and Uganda.

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