Gender Based Violence: Organised Labour Urged To Open Centre For Report

Helen Shok Jok

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The organised labour in Nigeria has been urged to open space for gender-based violence reference centres where survival of gender-based violence and harassment would report to.

The call was made in Abuja on Friday by the Solidarity Centre AFL-CIO, a nongovernmental organization based in the United States, during the official launch of a public presentation of Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH) Participatory Research Report and commemoration of the 16 days of Activism.

The theme of the 16 days of Activism is, “Breaking the Silence: Gender Based Violence in Nigeria World of Work”.

Senior Program Officer, Solidarity Center AFL-CIO, Nkechi Odinukwe

also said there was need for public enlightenment of the International Labour Organisation ILO Convention 190 that recognises the right if everyone in workplace free from violence and harassment.

In a message, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, called on trade unions to collaborate with the Ministry to formulate a national policy against gender-based violence in the world of work.

Ngige noted that the Nigeria Government was working towards ratifying the ILO Convention 190 as it would eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work.

He also said the research report would ensure increase awareness among workers and the general public.

Chairperson, NLC National Women Commission, Comrade Salamatu Aliyu, described as worrisome, what she termed as “Nigeria’s refusal to ratify ILO C190”, saying GBVH was adequately covered in International Labour Standards and Treaties.

“The report being launched today is a milestone achievement in our struggle towards promoting the right of every person to work based on dignity and respect free from any form of violence and harassment.

“The research finding have revealed the prevalence of GBVH thereby breaking the culture and conspiracy of silence as well as denial of gender based violence in the world of work in Nigeria”, she said.

She noted that only seven countries out of the over one hundred and eighty member countries of the ILO have signed the Convention as at today.

The countries according to her, include Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Somalia, Uruguay and Mauritius.

For the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, naming and shaming of perpetrators of gender-based violence and censure such from public leadership should be a way to go towards addressing the situation.

According to the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, “it is sad that gender based violence is not only restricted at home but also manifests in the workplace where it actually assumes a hydra headed face comprising physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and psychological torture.

“Generally, violence and harassment in the world of world affects a person psychological, physical and sexual health, dignity, family and social environment, among others.

“The perversity of gender-based violence is that it is mostly an attack against one of the vulnerable segments of our population- women. Gender-based violence and harassment thus disproportionately affects women and girls”, he said.

The NLC President who is also the President of the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC, maintained that ratifying the ILO Convention 190 by the Nigerian government, is the only solution to eradicate such inhumane treatment in the world of work.

The labour leader added that “for a country that already suffers from a huge gap between opportunities for male and female, it would be developmentally suicidal to allow gender-based violence steal the few available opportunities for our women to thrive and contribute to the development of society”.

The organised labour he said, understands the challenges of institutionalizing gender rights in the country including the right to freedom from gender-based violence given a domineering culture of patriarchy in the Nigerian society.

He urged Nigerians to continue to promote the importance of a work culture based on mutual respect and the dignity of the human being as a first line defense and precaution against violence and harassment.

The International Labour Organisation ILO has also said it is working with Nigeria to address Gender Based Violence and Harassment GBVH in the work place.

Speaking through the Senior Specialist for ILO workers’ activities, Ms Inviolata Chinyangarara, ILO Country Director Ms Vanessa Phala,

said that the ILO is working with the Nigeria Labour Congress to identify and ensure that GBVH is reduced to the barest minimum if not totally eradicated.

There were good will messages from the Trade union Congress TUC and ActionAid among others.

With all of these collaborations, Nigerians hope is getting brighter that the country may soon ratify the International Labour Organisation ILO Convention 190, aim at eradicating Gender Based Violence and Harassment in the work place.

The Convention was adopted by member countries of the ILO at the centenary conference of the organization in 2019 in Geneva Switzerland, and member countries were urged to ratify and domesticate the Convention without delay.

According to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC Ayuba Wabba, a meeting by the tripartite partners of the ILO in Nigeria has started deliberations aimed at achieving that goal.

Lateefah Ibrahim

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