By Gifty Arthur
Country director of ActionAid Ghana, has described as “unacceptable” the alarming rate of violence and harassment against women at work places.
According to Sumaila Abdul-Rahman, the grueling figure of one in three women, facing violence and harassment at work places, is a disturbing trend which needs to be checked.
He said, the time has come for all to wage and support serious campaigns against the menace to curtail it.
Mr Abdul-Rahman, who said this at the launch of a nationwide campaign yesterday in Accra,said statistics show a devastating picture of how dire the situation is, with the gender pay gap estimated at about 32 percent.
The World Economic Forum, also paints a gloomy picture that says that it will take close to 200 years to close the widening gender gap.
“The narrative needs to change. The grueling figure of 1 in 3 women facing violence and harassment at work is unacceptable.
Globally, the statistics paint a clear and devastating picture of how dire the situation is with the gender pay gap estimated at about 32% and the World Economic Forum indicating that it will take about 200 years to close this gap”.
He said often, women who work in the informal sector, have had to disclose one chilling story or the other of “incessant or repetitious telling of sexual or dirty stories or jokes, repeated sexually-oriented behavior, insulting or using derogatory sexual terms are but a few of the kinds of violations they face in their work”.
Themed “Decent work now for women in the informal sector”, the event held at the La Madina Nkwantanang Market in Accra was attended by youth and women groups, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), human rights campaigners and others.
The campaign among others, frowns on sex for jobs, discrimination against women at workplaces, violence in all forms, lessersalaries for women.
The local campaign is part of a global effort by ActionAid International which is themed “Stop violence and harassment in the World of work” with a call to support an International Labour Organization (ILO) convention and recommendation which ensure that all workers including those in sectors, occupations and work arrangements in which they are more exposed to violence and harassment, fully enjoy freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining in accordance with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948, and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949.
The global campaign was launched on May 1, 2019. It is targeted at specific groups of women who the campaigners like to call workers at risk. It covers women in the informal sector and those who are not adequately covered by labour laws and/ or cannot mobilize themselves to push for their rights to be respected.
The ActionAid Ghana chief, called for strategic and innovative advocacy tools to ensure that enough pressure is mounted on governments and policy makers, to guarantee the rights of women, who work everywhere, especially in the informal economy, are protected.
Women Rights and Campaigns Manager-ActionAid, asked families who employ the services of house helps and others, to be more considerate and take the wellbeing of these employees seriously.
Mrs. Margaret Brew-Ward said often, when house helps complain about certain personal issues that they suffer in the hands of husbands, children and other relatives, the women who often employ them erroneously brush them aside thinking they are scheming to break their homes.
She advised that the security and welfare of these employees, who are often vulnerable, have to be of concern to their bosses in order not toinfringe on their rights.
A representative from the La Madina Nkwantanang Municipal Assembly, Akwasi Adarkwa, said the Assembly was conscious of all forms of discrimination against women and so in it day to day administration, it has put in places initiatives and programmes that support women especially.
He added that, there have training for over a thousand people in all kinds of vocations to enhance their living conditions and that of their families.
Young women, who have suffered and experienced some of these violence and harassments told their stories and called for continuous campaign to contain the situation.
Launching the campaign, participants displayed placards some of which: Push for ILO convention on GBV at work now, stop sex for job, Government! Support conventions that tackles gender-based violence in the workplaces,
Others also read, working women lives matter, informal economy workers are workers, also have a right to decent work, enforce safety and protection in informal workplace, she is old enough to be your daughter but you want sex for job etc.