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International day for the elimination of violence against women

24 November 2014
VAW poster

Trade unions are mobilizing against discrimination and break the silence around violence at the workplace. United for social justice and against gender-based violence!

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25 November 2014

"Violence against women at work and in the public sector is not merely the problem of the women who suffer, but of all of us. Violence against women is violence against society as a whole. Violence is about power and has a background of cultural patterns that need to be changed" says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI).

Public Services International brings together social workers, health, municipal workers and public administration: caregivers and service providers that are essential for a decent life for women and their families. For PSI, gender-based violence is a trade union issue, whether in the workplace, at home or in the community. The consequences are grim and include problems of physical and psychological health. Violence may impair the ability of women to participate in economic life, places a greater burden on public services and hinders social cohesion.

The global financial crisis and austerity policies have profound implications and a negative impact on the economic and social empowerment of women to achieve gender equality. Women face formidable challenges such as growing unemployment, the freeze of public service wages and cuts to pensions, childcare, maternity and other social benefits. The crisis in world food production and climate change are also particularly harmful to women.

Public sector workers are well positioned to promote, implement and monitor the laws and regulations in support of gender equality and protection against violence and harassment. Even when laws are put in place, communities and especially women are often not aware of them. Together with civil society, trade unions develop, implement and promote strategies to eliminate violence against women and girls. The elimination of violence requires a strong intervention of public authorities to design and implement appropriate prevention measures in place to ensure legal protection and prosecution of cases, and to provide support and compensation for victims.

Juneia Batista, Chair of the PSI World Women’s Committee says: "It is important for organizations to identify and address the underlying inequalities and abuse of power leading to discrimination and violence; organize demonstrations and events to raise awareness against discrimination and violence, and work on prevention and protection of victims of domestic violence in collective agreements.”

We call upon states to adequately fund and invest in quality public services that are accessible to women, especially women who are victims of violence. We also call on all governments to support a new ILO convention that addresses "Violence against women and men in the workplace".

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