Working to End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work

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A rally against domestic violence, sexual attacks and discrimination in jobs and wages in India.
A rally againstdiscrimination and gender-based violence in India.

Working to End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work

Each year from November 25 through December 10, the global community comes together for the annual campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The campaign’s focus this year is on ending gender-based violence in the world of work.

Women make up about 40 percent of the global workforce, yet they make less than their male counterparts in every country in the world. One way to help women workers is by addressing everyday conditions in the workplace. Women experience physical or sexual violence or harassment in the workplace that can discourage and impede their economic engagement in their communities. Everyone deserves the opportunity to work and provide for themselves and their families without the fear of being sexually assaulted.   

Unfortunately, we know that female garment workers in countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, are at high risk of acts of violence or harassment, such as verbal abuse, sexual assault, and coercive threats. These acts can be prevented through transparent procurement processes and strong accountability mechanisms within international supply chains.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) are working with governments, international organizations, members of the private sector, and civil society groups to promote and advocate for women’s rights in the workplace across the globe in order to end gender-based violence and harassment. We currently have projects aimed at combatting gender-based violence in Central and South America. In every field of work, women deserve to feel safe and respected. 

At a time of increased feminization of production, women face upward mobility barriers and remain vastly underrepresented in the middle management positions in global supply chains. These are often critical leadership positions within a factory’s organization structure with personnel empowered to shape a work culture that will not tolerate GBV. We hope that our continued efforts to apprise workers of their basic rights will help foster more examples of workplaces sensitive to and actively working to end GBV issues. 

About the Author: Sarah Givens serves in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

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