Groups call for safe, just workplaces for women

Published November 28, 2021, 2:39 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Over 100 feminists, women workers, and grassroot women from Asia and the Pacific called for safe and just workplaces for women amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and worsening work conditions across the globe.


The International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 190 (C190) and its accompanying Recommendation No. 206 (R206) have been pushed by women workers and its allies as a pathway to end violence and harassment in all workplaces.

To date, only nine countries have ratified C190 worldwide. In Asia and the Pacific, only Fiji has ratified the conventions.

Organizations of women workers and grassroot women, however, committed to continue urging their governments to ratify C190 until “all women are safe and protected in all workplaces.”

According to the women, preventing gender-based violence is “essential to ensuring the health, safety, and dignity of women workers.”

Sheila Tebia-Bonifacio of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body International Migrants Alliance pointed out that C190 will be helpful for migrant women who have long been struggling with “dirty, dangerous, and demeaning” jobs abroad without the protection from either the sending or receiving countries.

“In cases of migrant women especially those who engage in domestic work and other low wage jobs, protection, support, and government accountability are either lacking or very little. Migrant women are left to fend for themselves, which has become extremely difficult during the pandemic,” Tebia-Bonifacio said.

The ratification of C-190, according to workers, could also help in exercising women’s right to freedom of association and protect women’s labor rights and human rights defenders from attacks and threats.

“Fighting to end gender-based violence for all women in all workplaces is at the center of dismantling the oppressive system of capitalism, fundamentalisms, militarism, and patriarchy. And only with cross-movements, struggle, actions, and solidarity can we really achieve it,” Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development Deputy Regional Coordinator Thaib Wardarina said.

Today we make our resolution to continue that struggle collectively until we achieve our win in ending all forms of gender-based violence and harassment against women in all their diversities in workplaces, and everywhere,” she added.