Today marks the end of this year’s “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence” campaign. Since its inception in the 1990s, feminist organisations, activists, and courageous individuals have tirelessly foregrounded women’s experiences of violence in their homes, communities, and workplaces. Beyond raising awareness, organisations and individuals have used these sixteen days to catalyse a shift away from the status quo. They have called upon governments, communities, and private companies to hold perpetrators of gender-based violence accountable.
Their calls were partially heard earlier this year with the historic adoption of the International Labour Organization’s Convention on Violence and Harassment (C190). This is the first binding international legal instrument to ever address violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work.
Even with this progress, all too often the voices of low-wage and/or marginalised workers remain unheard. Workers are especially vulnerable to gender-based violence in sectors where the power imbalance between workers and management is the greatest, such as the garment industry. Indeed, women garment workers – the majority of the global garment workforce – are systematically subjected to sexual harassment and violence at work. While gender-based violence and harassment disproportionately affects women and girls, all workers could be subject to this type of abuse and harassment.