CALL TO ACTION: Rise for Women’s Safety and Voice at Work
February 14th (V-Day) - March 8th (Int'l Women's Day)
“Women workers are silenced, in the factories and at home, through violence or the threats of violence, by means of fear — of being abused at work, of losing our jobs. We face sexual harassment. We are told we are worthless; we shouldn’t speak; we shouldn’t be leaders.” -Kalpona Akter
Women at Work
Paid employment for women is now globally recognized as beneficial to development. Most industries that play a role in manufacturing for export have relied on the skill and work ethic of women workers to bring in dollars – often to pay down the debts of corrupt governments. Women who speak up are threatened with a loss of pay, something they can’t afford when they are living below the poverty line. And women who organize are beaten, often brutally to the point of hospitalization, just for trying to negotiate for a safe and decent workplace.
- 1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime – that’s one BILLION women.
- A report by Sisters For Change and Munnade found that 1 in 7 women workers in garment factories in Bangalore has been forced either to commit a sexual act or to have sexual intercourse, while 1 in 14 experienced physical violence in the workplace.
- The garment industry is made up of 80% women, and is among the most deadly industries in the world. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than 1100 workers. Prior to the collapse, women workers asked to leave when they saw smoke, and a crack in the building, but they were beaten and threatened with loss of income if they left. Those same women later had to jump from third story windows, to be cut out of a collapsed building, or to lose their lives.
- Some 87 percent of Bangladeshi women have been victims of various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, which conducted the first-ever national census on women and violence in December 2013.
In industries where workers are primarily women, but factory owners and managers are overwhelmingly men, gender is an important aspect of social relations, power and control. It is often the women workers who face the worst abuses, including poverty wages, gender-based violence, and reprisals for speaking up to improve substandard conditions at work. Together, we can make this moment a turning point toward dignity and justice for women workers everywhere.
The Change We Need
This movement will continue to challenge institutions, governments and corporations that create and enable cycles of poverty and violence that disproportionately affect women. We will defend the rights of working women to earn living wages in safe conditions, and to freely organize without fear of violence or reprisal.
Join us in rising up for what working women need – SAFETY, VOICE, and a LIVING WAGE!
Together we will call for:
- Safe working environments, including an end to violence and sexual harassment at work, paid sick leave, safe and decent workplaces, and adequate compensation in case of injury or death on the job.
- A voice at work so that women don’t fear retaliation when they form and lead trade unions, or speak out for their rights and safety at work
- Living wages and equal pay for equal work so that women can afford to meet basic needs for themselves and their families.
Over the past four years, activists in all countries across the globe have risen up to demand an end to violence against women and girls as part of the global One Billion Rising movement. This year One Billion Rising’s theme is “Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women. Rise! Disrupt! Connect!” As part of this campaign we are lifting up the voices and demands of women workers, who face sexual harassment, physical violence and deplorable conditions across the world.
You can you get involved by organizing within your community around an issue affecting local women workers. Write to your government and ask that they support a new ILO conventions on gender-based violence. Urge global corporations to pay living wages and ensure safe working conditions. Share your event or action focused on women workers’ rights planned anytime during February 14th (V-Day) to March 8th (International Women’s Day) with sarah [at] ilrf.org and also post it directly at http://www.onebillionrising.org/events.
The International Labor Rights Forum invites allied organizations around the world to endorse the above Call to Action, which we’ve developed as a sub-theme under One Billion Rising’s broader focus of “Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women. Rise! Disrupt! Connect!” for 2017. To endorse the following Call to Action, please email sarah [at] ilrf.org () by February 10.