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PSI unions want gov’t to expedite ratification of ILO C190

By Clement Wangira.

Trade Unionists, women rights’ activists and the academia have urged Uganda government to expedite the process of ratification of Iinternational Labour Organisation Convention 190 on ending Gender Based Violence and sexual harassment in the world of work.

This was during the stakeholders meeting for trade unionist, civil society and government officials on the ratification of ILO convention 190, held September 22, 2021 at Imperial Royal Hotel in Kampala

Public Service International PSI, regional secretary for English speaking Africa Dr. Everline Akechi,  said that Elimination of Violence against Women should not only  focus on the extreme conditions of conflict zones that workplace violence occurs since sexual harassment and assault are part, but at most women’s professional lives.

She said even though men can also suffer violence and harassment in the workplace, stereotyping and inequality in power relationships make women much more vulnerable to violence and harassment in the world of work

Dr. Akechi emphasised that ratification of C190 will go a long way in addressing existing policy gaps with Uganda’s labour related frameworks

In her key note address, Professor Consolata Kabonesa an Azssociate professor school of women and gender studies Makerere University said Women’s everyday working lives are characterized by anxiety, depression, panic attacks; sleep disorders, attention deficit and memory problems, and feeling vulnerable.

She said Uganda health care providers spend 18.3 billion annually to deal with effects of gender based violence

Professor Kabonesa said sexual assault, insults, humiliation, discrimination, and beyond that contradictory orders or isolation are becoming ‘natural’ aspects of work relationships.

“Even more so when we realize that many women are afraid to report their attackers, because of not knowing who to turn to or out of fear of losing their jobs’’ she said

The situation can lead to women leaving their jobs or giving up working, which results in interruptions in employment with consequences for current and future income with less right to pensions adding to the already unacceptable gender pay gap of 23% between women and men

State Minister for Gender Hon. Peace Mutuuzo said Uganda government is already committed to support for an ILO Convention and Recommendation to violence against women

“As government we commit ourselves to protecting women and girls from the rampant high levels of violence”, she said.

Hon Mutuuzo said violence against women is a shame, adding that no woman deserves to live in constant fear of Gender Based Violence

She said:” The program is timely and relevant in building on the gains already achieved by government in addressing the underlying social causes of GBV and gender inequalities”.

But Female Workers Member of Parliament Hon Agnes Kunihira called on all stakeholders  to help eliminate Gender based violence.She said inequality in society and discrimination of women as a weaker sex has impacted negatively and relegated women in society.

“Women should be bold enough to men who  harass them sexually especially at workplaces,” She said.

Hon Kunihira called on trade unions  to take the lead in ending gender based violence.

“Labour unions should take the leadd in ending gender based violence ,” She said.

National Organization of Trade Unions(NOTU) Chairman General Usher Wilson Owere stressed need to recognize importance of  social dialogue between all stakeholders to establish concrete protection mechanisms.

“We need preventive measures between the actors in the world of work for effective tripartite partnership of employers, workers and government,” he said.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COFTU) Chairman General Mr John Oketcho told the Workers Eye that vigorous training and sensirtization of wo rkers is needed on matters pertaining to C190.

“Workers need  to be sensitized to comprehend and internalize  matters before advocating for ratification of C190,”he said.

Commissioner for Labour Mr Apollo Onzoma said ratification of ILO convention 190 will address gaps in local laws; with focus on creating an enabling policy, legislative and accountability.

He said:” We have good labour laws in the country but we are bogged down by absence of enforment capability.           

The Labour Commissioner said there is still lack of evidence adduced  to adequately prosecute suspects implicated in GBV.

Uganda has a fairly good record of ratification and accession to international and regional human rights treaties, however, the extent to which a country has discharged its human rights obligations as enshrined in the international instruments is only judged by the extent to which domestic laws, programs and policies have been modified

 “The ratification to the ILO convention addresses these gaps in local laws; with focus on creating an enabling policy, legislative and accountability environment for elimination of GBV ■

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