Violence in the world of work is a threat to the dignity, security, health and well-being of everyone. It has an impact not only on workers and employers, but also on their families, communities, economies and society as a whole. Indeed, violence in the world of work strikes at the heart of the efforts of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote the right of all human beings "to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity" (Declaration of Philadelphia), II(a), 1944).
In 2015, the ILO highlighted the issue of violence during the 104th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), both in the resolution concerning the recurrent discussion on social protection (labour protection), and in Recommendation No. 204. This issue is, likewise, central to the ILO's centenary initiative on women at work. The adoption of a new international instrument to protect women and men workers from violence and harassment is now on the agenda for discussion of the 2019 International Labour Conference.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is described as the most systematic and widespread human rights violation in the world. Such violence is exceptionally dehumanizing, pervasive and oppressive, and both reflects and reinforces inequalities between women and men. Gender-based violence was first addressed in 1979 at a global level under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Article 11 requires that: “take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against woman in the field of employment”. The issue today a global level priority: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the achievement of full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, the reduction of inequalities and the elimination of “all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres” (Target 8.5, Goal 10 and Target 5.2). This includes tackling gender-based violence and disseminating tools to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment in the world of work.