A world without violence is possible: Here’s the proof

Maria (left) from Guatemala, Jolly (centre) from Bangladesh, and Marie (right) from the Democratic Republic of Congo – the faces of CARE’s #16dayscampaign to #endGBV

“I’m a woman and I am here.”

Jolly, 24, had been working in the same job at a factory in Bangladesh for six years. Joining CARE’s leadership training gave her the confidence to go for a promotion. She now controls six production lines and is encouraging other women to change their mindset about what women can achieve. She says:

Before the leadership training, I had a lot of challenges. I feared that I could not do the job, I feared what others would say.

I was totally awakened by the 10-day training. It literally transformed me... now nothing is a challenge. Previously I was lagging behind because I am a woman, but I want to put myself in a position where no one will comment that I am a woman or a man – I will just be judged on my work.

I never imagined I could be in this position. I didn’t know how to communicate and have people understand me. Why would people listen to me? Now I supervise 24 people.

I got this position, but a man didn’t. I’m a woman and I am here.

Photo of Jolly for #16days campaign

90% of the 4 million workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry are women.

The garment industry is an important employer in Asia but women workers typically do the most vulnerable, marginalised, and low paid forms of work in the industry.

CARE worked with Jolly as part of our Empowering Women Workers in Bangladesh project, which is funded by the Cotton On Group. This project seeks to increase the number of women garment workers in leadership roles in the participating factories and is part of CARE’s Made by Women strategy which aims to economically empower 8 million women garment workers through dignified work.

Five women in Bangladesh who work in a garment factory
Participants in the Empowering Women Workers training provided by CARE: from left to right, Mst. Samsuara, Mohona, Surma, Mim, and China

Women around the world overwhelmingly face gender-based violence (GBV) in their workplace. For example, 1 in 3 women garment workers in Cambodia have experienced sexual harassment.

CARE has been campaigning for legal protections for women to be able to work in safe and secure conditions. On 21 June 2019, the International Labour Conference voted YES to adopt Convention 190, a new global law to end violence and harassment in the world of work.

But while this was a significant victory, it is only the first step.

The Convention is a global, legally-binding treaty dealing specifically with keeping workers everywhere safe from violence and harassment at work. But it will only officially come into effect one year after two Member State governments have ratified it. Then, once a government has ratified the Convention, they have a year to enact the necessary legislation to comply with the Convention’s stipulations.

This year, the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is focusing on ending GBV in the world of work. CARE is joining the 16 Days Campaign to keep the pressure on governments to ratify, implement and enforce the ILO convention.

Photo of Maria for #16days campaign

There are more than 19 million paid domestic workers in Latin America – and 95% of them are women.

8 out of every 10 domestic workers in the region claim to have been the victims of some type of violence at their places of work.

Maria de los Angeles (above) is a domestic worker and a member of a domestic workers group in Guatemala, who organise and educate women to prevent the mistreatment they have suffered in domestic work. CARE has been a long-term ally with the domestic workers’ movement across Latin America.

Photo of Marie for #16days campaign

Marie Kanciama (above) is a community mobiliser trained by CARE to spread awareness about confidential services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in in Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Women like Jolly, Maria and Marie are proof that a world without violence is possible.

They are doing their part to ensure safe and empowering workplaces for women, but now it is time for governments to step up.

What you can do

In the UK, during the 16 days of activism (25 November to 10 December), we cannot directly call on the UK government to ratify the convention, as there is no government in place because of the UK general election. Following the UK general election, CARE will be actively raising the issue with the new government.

During the 16 days, please follow CARE International UK on social media and promote, share and raise awareness to show governments and businesses around the world that now is the time to end GBV in the workplace.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.