Lobby your MP to say #ThisIsNotWorking

Maly, an infirmary nurse at a garment factory in Cambodia, is a member of the factory’s sexual harassment committee and trains and supports her co-workers on how to recognise and take action against harassment

#MeToo drew attention to the sexual harassment and violence faced by women across many spheres of work, both in the UK and globally. Now, we need passionate people to help us say #TimesUp.

On Tuesday 5 March, more than 100 people came together to lobby their MPs in Parliament for a strong global convention to end workplace harassment for everyone, whether they are in formal or informal employment and in whatever kind of workplace people have. More than 40 MPs attended our packed reception or were lobbied directly by constituents.

Participants in the CARE lobby day
Participants in the lobby day preparing to march to the Houses of Parliament

Hosted by Helen Pankhurst, and run by CARE in partnership with the Centenary Action Group, the day started with briefings and inspiring talks for the participants, followed by a short march across Parliament Square to the Houses of Parliament where the lobbying began.

The energy and passion in the room was incredible. For three hours MPs were meeting their constituents to hear why they cared about harassment in the workplace.

Maria Miller and Jess Phillips holding placards
Maria Miller MP and Jess Phillips MP beside the statue to Millicent Fawcett before meeting constituents inside the Houses of Parliament

It was particularly fantastic to hear the MPs say how much they valued the opportunity the day gave them to meet impassioned constituents and actually interact with voters, which surprisingly doesn’t appear to happen that much! Jess Philips, who was with us all day and helped get lots of MPs to come, said it was the best day she’d had in Parliament since she was elected. Towards the end of the day word was obviously getting around Parliament that something exciting was going on, so more and more MPs were turning up asking to speak to people and hear what it was all about.

Harriet Harman and Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Harriet Harman MP with Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu inside the Houses of Parliament

The participants all gave their MPs concrete actions they can take to end harassment at work, and many are enthusiastic to keep up the pressure. At the end of the day, a series of speakers including Helen Pankhurst, Jess Philips, Dawn Butler, Maria Miller, Marcelina Bautista and Vicky Ford delivered stirring and exciting speeches about the importance and impact of the day and the activism that is needed to achieve gender equality and end harassment.

A massive Thank You to all of you who came to the Day of Action. And if you didn’t make it, thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign, met with MPs in their constituencies, shared the social media on the day or continued to lobby from home.

What are we asking the UK government to do?

In the UK, we are asking the government to:

  • reinstate third-party harassment laws
  • introduce a duty on employers to prevent harassment

In the UK, more than half of women polled by the TUC had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Fawcett Society’s Sex Discrimination Law Review found that women in the UK who work in retail, hospitality, and many other sectors that deal with customers and clients on a daily basis currently have little protection from their employer when facing harassment from third parties.

That’s why CARE has been campaigning with the Centenary Action Group to demand that the UK government reinstate third-party harassment laws and introduce a duty on employers to prevent harassment.

Globally, we are asking the UK government to:

  • support a legally-binding convention that protects all workers

In Europe, between 40% and 50% of women experience sexual harassment at work, while across Asia and in Australia up to 40% of women suffer workplace sexual harassment. Yet more than one-third of the world's countries do not have any laws prohibiting workplace harassment and there is no international legal standard specifically for protecting women at work from these abuses. Workplace harassment is a global problem that requires a global response.

Last June, governments, employers’ organisations and trade unions met at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – the UN agency in charge of enforcing labour standards – to agree a legally-binding convention to protect women from workplace harassment.

If this new global law is going to protect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women, we need to make sure that the current draft of the convention is not watered down during the ILO negotiations this June. The UK government must back a version of the convention that contains the most inclusive definitions of ‘worker’ and ‘workplace’, so that all women around the world are protected.

Together, we can make 2019 the year we end violence and harassment at work.