Ending violence against women

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The ITF and affiliated unions believe that violence against women is a trade union issue.

Question 1

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How can union campaigns to end violence against women be strengthened?

Question 2

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What alliances are needed to make progress in this issue?

Question 3

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What are the barriers to eradicating violence against women?

Question 4

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What has made your union work to end violence against women successful?

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Focusing on Prevention to Stop the Violence

Focusing on Prevention to Stop the Violence

Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence. Given the devastating effect violence has on women, efforts have mainly focused on responses and services for survivors. However, the best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.

Prevention should start early in life, by educating and working with young boys and girls promoting respectful relationships and gender equality. Working with youth is a “best bet” for faster, sustained progress on preventing and eradicating gender-based violence. While public policies and interventions often overlook this stage of life, it is a critical time when values and norms around gender equality are forged.

women’s empowerment and their enjoyment of human rights. It also means making the home and public spaces safer for women and girls, ensuring women’s economic autonomy and security, and increasing women’s participation and decision-making powers—in the home and relationships, as well as in public life and politics.Working with men and boys helps accelerate progress in preventing and ending violence against women and girls. They can begin to challenge the deeply rooted inequalities and social norms that perpetuate men’s control and power over women and reinforce tolerance for violence against women and girls.

Awareness raising and community mobilization, including through media and social media, is another important component of an effective prevention strategy.

My Experience in Thailand

Education for prevention

We work closed with Local NGO and community to developed a non -formal education to engage young people in efforts to prevent and end violence against girls and women

First , we designed for various age group training them about " Dignity " Respect our dignity and others , and How to be gentleman ? How to respect women ? and How the girl protect themself from all viloence ? It provides young people with tools and expertise to understand the root causes of violence in their communities, to educate and involve their peers and communities to prevent such violence, and to learn about where to access support if violence is experienced.

We open the vdo for peer educators that will help them deliver age-appropriate sessions, as well as age-appropriate non-formal education activities. The youngest groups may start out with vdo that prompt them to think about gender bias and stereotypes, while older age groups can organize poster competitions, visit and volunteer with local shelters, or develop local community-based campaigns and projects to address specific forms of violence against girls and women.

Start from our families , working place , our communities ...as like we throw stone to the river ..and it make waves !!

Union should work closed with Local NGO and leader communities .

Education is critical!

Apinya, thank you so much for your comments here. The ITF is committed to offering education around prevention to stop violence in the workplace and violence against women in general. This is a union issue and one which needs to be talked about and developed more. 

It's so important for us, and for sisters from other unions, to share and learn about the experiences of others, so it's really valuable that you've outlined an approach here to educating around violence. It looks like you're taking a really practical approach and the focus on community can only be a positive thing! What you've said about using peer educators is really interesting too. We're developing support and education in this area, as part of that a 3 day training session is being held following the women's conference in Delhi on education around violence against women.

ITF women!! What about you? What is your union doing to address violence against women, in and out of the workplace? Do you agree that education should be the focus? Share your experiences, ideas and thoughts here. Access information on the campaign to end violence against women: http://www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/no-to-violence-2013.cfm

There's also a new resource, the ITF Action guide on violence against women which is about inspiring more action from unions, sharing ideas, experiences and resources to aid campaigning.

Education is critical!

Violence against women is not a single act. It’s part of a pernicious culture of gender violence. Many perpetrators have themselves been victims of violence. This matters in a culture of gender violence and perhaps a first step to reducing violence against women is to recognize this.

The most important way to end violence against women is to take a firm public stand of zero tolerance. And while it will need all sections of society, particularly those who form public opinion, to build this public stand, it is essential that the state provides the firm leadership necessary to make this happen

To end violence you first have to name it, know it, and recognize its many forms as an unacceptable assault upon the dignity of women and all society. Communities need to bring violence against women and girls out from behind closed doors and the protection of 'culture' or 'tradition,' and collectively refuse to condone or disregard these acts of domination and oppression.

We shouldn’t think that violence against women is only pervasive in the developing or conflict-ridden pockets of the world. Sexual violence happens in our own homes, and in our institutions. Investigating and understanding gender power structures is an important element that can lead to combatting violence against women. That, and the absolute need for all of us to stop avoiding the reality and start helping each other.

Yes , I do strongly agree that education should be the focus !!

Educating communities about the rights of women

What is needed is action at the grassroots: educate communities about the rights women have under modern law and offer pro bono legal advice to these impoverished women so that they can defend their cases in court.

The principal avenue for ending this type of violence will be prevention, by uniting all segments of society, so that violence finally stops being a private matter and becomes a public matter that all actors will contribute to resolving.

People like you and me can change sexual harassment and other sexual violence against women! Especially when laws are ineffective or unenforced, changing the social acceptability of harassment and other violent acts can transform our society from one that ignores sexual violence or blames the victim, back to a community which we can all feel safe in and proud of.
To eliminate violence against women, we must start with the family unit and the private realm. It’s critical to understand how children are taught about the value of women and men, and how this translates into power relations. By tackling these dynamics at this influential level, we can better support children to grow into agents of positive change.

Share the learning!

Dear Apinya

Thank you for your comments and it sounds like you’ve been doing great work trying to stop violence against women. This is a new area of work for the ITF and we are really keen to find our what our affiliates have been doing so far and share the learning.

We believe that education plays a key role in trying to address the causes of violence against women, by empowering women to challenge the power relations and gender norms in society.

It would be great to speak to you in Delhi about this further and how you’ve built alliances with local organisations. Please email education@itf.org.uk and we will also contact you.

She is..., and so be U!

She is harmony, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMc48
She is mainstay, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMKgA
She is love, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMMaA
She is flight, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMPef

She is..., and so be U!

She is harmony, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMc48
She is mainstay, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMKgA
She is love, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMMaA
She is flight, and so be you! - http://flic.kr/p/hPMPef

Coalitions - working with men as allies

Wearing a ribbon is not enough, but it is the first small step. If we can identify men as Ambassadors they can work as bystanders intervening with colleagues to prevent workplace abuse. AT White Ribbon Campaign Auk wee work with Trade Unions locally and nationally to achieve this through development of workplace policies.

Chris thanks for being

Chris thanks for being involved in the discussion here. The white ribbon campaign at the Maritime union of Australia is a good example of union women and men working together towards a common goal. As is already being discussed here in the building a strategy area, issues which primarily affect women workers are all too often dismissed as low priority and any campaign which demonstrates that isn't how the union thinks or acts, is a positive thing. 

As Ainya says in another post on this question feed: "Start from our families , working place , our communities ...as like we throw stone to the river ..and it make waves !! "

Follow through

what unions need to do is to take the next step from the obvious tokenism. Still in my workplace there is the 'womens business' laughter or mockery attached to any campaign relating to women. There are still a round of mockery that follows any request for support in our campaigns. This was evident in the recent White ribbon campaign where i enlisted the support of the company in buying our flags to be flown in the masts of our tugs, and purchasing a box of white ribbons to get the men to wear and to swear the oath. However this never happened as the commitment is yet to be felt across the board of male employess, (almost 100%). Hopefully we will get there next year. This is my oath.

Combating negative attitude to work around violence and gender

Kaz, thanks so much for your comments, finding out about individual union experiences and sharing thoughts and ideas is what this site is all about, so thank you for getting things started.

What you've said about tokenism really strikes a chord. As far as the ITF is concerned campaigning on violence against women is important to the industrial agenda - it isn't a 'women's issue' to be left on the sidelines. By taking this issue seriously and campaigning on it, unions can reach more potential members who in turn strengthen industrial campaigns.

The new ITF action guide on violence against women is now available online (http://www.itfglobal.org/infocentre/pubs.cfm/detail/41464). It's a resource for unions, to help hold employers and governments accountable to deliver legislation, frameworks on prevention and justice, encourage unions to develop campaigns which inspire and challenge traditional perceptions of men and women, and create an environment where women can talk safely about the issues.

So now to members from other unions, please share your materials, ideas and tips for combating the negative attitude to violence and union gender work. It's your turn to have your say!!

Action plans on violence

Building community links and alliances is one of the things that's been discussed during training on violence against women, following the women's conference in Delhi this week. ITF sisters have been on a pilot training course which is part of plans to develop an education programme around the issue.

View photos of the training sessions here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.249407135233918.1073741840.129900080517958&type=1&l=2f6b660bf0

What alliances are needed to make progress in this issue?

We all have to do much more to get to zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women which can take many forms, including trafficking, forced marriages, dowry-related violence, sexual assault and domestic violence. We know that gender inequality increases the likelihood of violence against women and that most such violence goes unreported or is dismissed as a private matter.

This view that violence against women by their partners is acceptable and a private matter is deeply dismaying. Far from being a domestic issue, violence against women and girls is a gross violation of human rights that also incurs significant economic costs for survivors and their families, communities and societies. It should outrage us all.

We needed to break the cycle of violence: we must adopt and enforce laws which criminalise violence and hold perpetrators to account. We must ensure that health, legal and other services are available and responsive to the needs of all women who have experienced violence. But most of all, we must raise awareness and promote zero tolerance of such violence, including among men and boys.

Where to start? At home of the Union' s member and in our schools, by teaching our boys the importance of respectful and equal relationships with women and with each other. The focus must be on introducing healthy notions of what it means to be a man, notions that are non-violent, gender equitable and based on care and respect, not domination and control. We also need to empower young women to become self-confident citizens who speak out and exercise their right to live a life free of violence.

Raising awareness on the issue as well as calling for concrete actions to end violence against women; actions that government, communities and individuals can and should take.

we need to rethink our development challenges . The momentum is building to recognize gender equality as a development goal in its own right, and prioritise the eradication of violence against women. Doing so will benefit not only women, but our families, communities and societies as a whole.

"When women's lives are free of violence and discrimination, nations thrive."

We all have a role to play in ending violence against women. The time to act is now, and the best place to start is right at home.

community alliances

I believe that alliances within our communities need to be forged. Whereby we can enlist the strength and support of the wives of our co-workers to carry on our fight within their communities, therefore involving the men from a different angle. Activism at a grass roots level has a ground swelling effect, and can help build an understanding that is nurtured in the home.

How do we build links with our community?

Couldn't agree more with what Kaz says here about the need to build community alliances around gender work. What are you doing in your union to build links with the community?

One UK union organising in the community is Unite the union, take a look at their approach and share your own community work plans including in relation to gender work: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/


I guess one of the biggest barriers to stamping out violence against women is still fear. Fear of being pointed at, being belittled by the person thats doing it, by his family. In standing up and speaking about such things really takes a lot of personal strength. Even though some women appear strong, to speak of such things is like striking you down each and every time. I have been a victim of domestic violence, and i can write about it, but when i try to speak about it it takes me back to that place EVERY time. We need the support of communities, and for people to commit to eradicate this crime, for it is a crime.

Violence against women as a workplace issue..

Kaz, thanks so much for your really honest comments on this incredibly tough topic. The ITF believes that sharing experiences and how we've dealt with them and overcome challenges over time, is a huge part of all our work around violence against women whether it's at work, in the home, in the community – wherever. Looking forward to hearing more from you during the conference on this and a range of other topics. As one of our participant reporters sure you will have lots of valuable content to add! 

Wherever this kind of violence exists, unions have a role around educating women and men about violence prevention, creating materials and opportunity for discussion. As many of the comments in this section already highlight, ITF unions really see this as the key area of work for them on this issue. Promoting this as a workplace issue and as an area of concern for all workers, not just women, is also a comment which comes up again and again. 

keeping the issue on the table.

I am proud to be a part of a union that is leading the way in australia in its promotion of the White Ribbon Day campaign. With diligence from the officials, which stemmed many years ago from our national womens committee, it has been kept on the table for many many years to the success it is today. All women involved need to be congratulated, now we need to carry it forward and to get a deeper commitment to stamping out the attitudes and behaviours surrounding violence, and other issues that affect and cripple women.