By Lloyd Rabaya
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission, in conjunction with the International Labour Organization (ILO), today launched the workplace sexual harassment and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) manual, which will strengthen efforts by various organizations in fighting harassment at workplaces.
Representatives from various organizations and government departments were present at the launch to show the pivotal role the manual for policy development and programme implementation will play in fighting violence and sexual harassment in the world of work.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal number five stresses that gender bias undermines social fabric and devalues everyone as it is not just a human rights issue but a tremendous waste of the world’s human potential.
Speaking at the launch, ILO Officer in Charge, Anna-Marie Kiaga, said that since people spend most of their time at work, violence and sexual harassment have to be collectively put to an end to provide a safe environment for all workers, and the manual will be of great help.
“The ILO pursues a vision based on the premises that universal and lasting peace can be established only, if it is based on social justice and regards gender-based violence and harassment as a violation of social justice.
The manual will facilitate for wide-spread training to raise awareness, train Workplace Gender Champions, and facilitate for the general scaling-up of the response to SGBV by tripartite plus stakeholders, maintaining the quality and standards at national, sectoral, or enterprise levels,” she said.
The Convention 190 (C190) defines violence, including GBV and harassment in the world of work as “a range of unacceptable behaviors and practices” that “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.”
The tripartite is a three-member delegation of an ILO-member state, and in Zimbabwe, the tripartite comprises of Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU), and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
Speaking at the manual launch, ZCTU’s Gender Specialist and Head of Education Ms Fiona Magaya corresponded with Kiaga as she revealed that Zimbabwe is currently circumscribed by power issues in workplaces, political and economic violence among other key issues that can perpetuate SGBV in workplaces.
“The issue of SGBV is a critical issue of concern to the ZCTU and let me assure you of our commitment to the labour movement in regard to running a campaign and collaborating with all stakeholders to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work.
The ZCTU has already been involved in awareness, education, training of gender champions, GBV focal persons, under the Spotlight Initiative since the launch of the GBV campaign in 2015,” she said.
A 2017 report by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) showed that sexual harassment at workplaces was rampant, but very little effort was being made to educate workers about it.