LOBBY YOUR MP to say #thisisnotworkinG
Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP
Minister of State for Employment
House of Commons
8 March 2019
Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work
The #MeToo movement continues to draw attention to the violence and harassment that women face in their working lives in the UK and globally.
Worldwide, between 40% and 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work. Despite this, more than one-third of the world's countries do not have any laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a global issue. It needs a global response.
That is why I was pleased to see the UK Government show support for a new international standard to protect women from workplace violence and harassment last June at the International Labour Conference. A legally-binding ILO Convention is a golden opportunity to move from #MeToo to #TimesUp and a chance to ensure that the most exploited and vulnerable workers are better protected. It has the potential to change the lives of millions of women and girls who suffer disproportionate levels of abuse at work, often in the lowest paid and most insecure jobs. However, strong UK leadership is required if the Convention is going to protect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women.
I strongly encourage you, as the Minister of State for Employment, to support an inclusive Convention which will extend protection to those most at risk of violence and harassment at work. The current text recognises that violence and harassment at work includes not just physical, but also psychological and sexual aspects; that practical protections against work-related violence and harassment must reach all workers, including home-based and domestic workers and all those working in the informal economy; and that the world of work is considered to cover not only the physical workplace, but any activity arising out of work, including public spaces and commuting to and from work.
If the text of the Convention is excessively watered down during negotiations in June for the sake of the widest possible ratification, there is a risk that it will not protect all working women. I urge you, to retain a clear focus on ensuring the scope of the Convention remains fully inclusive so that it effectively protects the most vulnerable, both in the UK and around the world, ensuring that no-one is left behind.
This is a great opportunity for the UK to take a leading role on an issue of global importance. Together, we can make 2019 the year we end violence and harassment at work for every woman, everywhere. I look forward to hearing from you.