1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Policy Innovations in Response to Gender-Based Violence Are Pushing the International Agenda

2 Nov 2017

The topic of gender-based violence is becoming more and more prominent, both in the media and in policy circles. Recent allegations of sexual harrassment by well-known figures in the film industry have sparked a storm on social media and beyond with women—and men—using #MeToo to report massively on their experience of psychological, sexual and physical violence against them because of their gender.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is also increasingly on the agenda in international policy circles. The Sustainable Development Goals explicitly aim to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres (Target 5.2) and Goal 8 echoes the ILO’s long-standing Decent Work Agenda which implies, amongst other things, workplaces free of violence and discrimination. GBV will also figure prominently in discussions in June 2018 at the International Labour Conference (the ILO’s standard-setting body) on the adoption of a possible new international convention on ending violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work.

UNRISD interviewed Jane Aeberhard-Hodges, former Director of the ILO's Bureau for Gender Equality and currently an UNRISD Senior Research Associate, not just about what the convention could look like, but also on recent policy innovations related to GBV in Australia, which hold lessons for the new standard. Increasing recognition of the spill-over effects of domestic violence into the workplace is being reflected in innovative policy thinking and implementation at different levels of governance, including the symbolic recognition in July 2017 by Australia’s Fair Work Commission that all employees should have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave. Although it did not change any regulations, the decision ([2017] FWC 3494) marks a milestone in recognizing that domestic and other forms of violence have real and tangible impacts on employees and employers in the workplace, integrating the issue across economic and social policy domains.

In the interview, UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator Katja Hujo and Jane Hodges explore the politics of this ongoing change in policies related to GBV, looking at the drivers of change, the complex relationships among the different actors involved, and the potential impact of both national legislation and international labour standards on the subject.

Listen to the interview, and let us know what you think in the comments, or tell us about policies in your country that address GBV and whether they are transformative.

More details in: Jane Aeberhard-Hodges and Ludo McFerran. An International Labour Organization instrument on violence against women and men at work: The Australian influence, Journal of Industrial Relations. First published 24 August 2017 (Note: Access to the full article may require a payment)