This Lab covered the complex issue of sexual and gender based violence in general and in particular in work spaces with a specific focus on the best strategies to fight against it. It is also linked to ILC policy on sexual harassment whose specific objective is to ensure that ILC is a safe space for all. It was the third of a series of four Learning Labs whose topics are selected by the women taking part in the ILC mentoring and solidarity Network “Women for Women”.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
- How to recognise sexual and gender based violence and harassment.
- How to prevent sexual and gender based violence in work spaces.
- How to respond to and fight against sexual harassment and sexual and gender-based violence in work spaces.
- Mino Ramaroson, Regional Coordinator, Africa and Land Specialist at Huairou Commission, Madagascar
- Sunila Singh, Social Development Foundation (SDF) member and Women’s Rights Expert, India
- Veronica Luna, Género y Territorios de Conocimiento at Fundación Plurales, Argentina
THE GLOBAL SCENARIO
The topic of the Lab was introduced by Sunila Singh who gave an overview of the global scenario:
- Almost one each three women worldwide have been victim of a form of sexual violence
- 200 million women and girls (aged 15–49 years) have undergone female genital mutilation
- Women and girls account for 72% of all human trafficking
- Across five regions, 82% of women parliamentarians reported having experienced some form of psychological violence while serving their terms.
She also highlighted the different impact of COVID 19 on women, with a specific focus on gender based violence, and mentioned the importance of States’ response: 155 countries have passed laws on domestic violence and 140 have laws on sexual harassment in the workplace. She explored in details existing laws and instruments in South East Asia.
The existence of such laws is not enough! It is crucial to ensure the implementation and reinforcement of laws and mechanisms as well to educate women and build their confidence, encouraging them to speak about and react to SGBV.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TOOLS TO RESPOND TO SGBV
Mino Ramaroson stressed the importance of the active role of women to take action against SGBV and discussing SGBV in the context of land issues. She mentioned the Generation Equality Forum, as well as the collective commitment on SGBV by the Global Coalition on safe spaces and cities.
The Global Coalition aims at strengthening tools and actions to respond to SGBV - in particular with regard to monitoring policies and their implementation, and building the capacity of women to break the wall of silence around SGBV. It also works on tools to audit the work at grassroots level and provide evidence.
Huairou Commission is extremely active in supporting its members to fight against SGBV, in particular in providing safe spaces and voicing grassroots women groups; it always includes a focus on SGBV in its projects. Mino provided examples of projects that build resilience against the impacts of climate change: they included a significant focus on SGBV in relation to COVID 19 effects on violence, as reported cases of violence at community level increased during the pandemic. Women groups were supported in creating virtual groups of reciprocal help.
There’s a strong relation between the issue of women’s land rights and violence against women (in particular the elders). HC put in place specific tools of community dialogues to respond to the situation.
PROTOCOLS AGAINST SGBV
Veronica Luna shared the experience of Fundación Plurales and the elaboration of a dedicated protocol against SGBV, which applies both internally and with the communities they work with.
The idea of a protocol is linked to the intrinsic nature of Fundación Plurales which works mainly with women; an episode of SGBV involving a director of a partner organisation pushed Fundación Plurales to elaborate such a protocol to deal with any further case that could happen.
The protocol is based on their everyday work in supporting women’s rights, and builds upon existing legal global and regional frameworks. It was developed internally through a participatory process, with the supported of an external consultant.
The protocol is mostly intended as a prevention tool, to define and make it clear that SGBV is not acceptable! It is important to prevent violence, repair the violence and provide emotional and practical support to the survivor. Such a protocol can also be a source of inspiration for other organisations.
It is important for organisations to have protocols against SGBV that match with their specific context, and that are flexible and adaptable.
the experience of participants
Participants discussed the best ways to respond to cases of gender-based violence. What emerged is the importance of dedicated mechanisms and norms to respond to SGBV, solidarity and support among women and emotional support to SGBV survivors.
Building a network of women and providing legal and psychological support are crucial step to tackle the situation of violence.
Empathy, listening, accompanying and encouraging women are the key words from the debate.
It is important to enforce mechanisms and to create solidarity, considering that SGVB is still very present (including in the work spaces and the organisations) and that the number of denounces is still very low.
"Despite the fact that progress is being made on these issues (with feminist groups and others) and that they are becoming more visible, the problem is still so latent that the figures of murdered, raped and violated women are frightening. Often the effort that one, as a militant feminist, makes is so much that it exhausts you, it overwhelms you. This has only just begun and there is still a long way to go..." | Participant from Latin America.