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Survey finds workplace harassment against women pressing issue

2,323 workers respond to questions about work environment

By Rana Husseini - Oct 31,2019 - Last updated at Oct 31,2019

Speakers at a one-day event to launch the preliminary findings of a survey titled:  ‘Justice for Women and Girls Affected by Violence and Harassment in Jordan’ (Photo courtesy of ActionAid)

AMMAN — One in five female employees is subjected to some form of violence or harassment in the workplace, a survey revealed on Wednesday.

This statistic was announced during a one-day event to launch the preliminary findings of a survey titled:  “Justice for Women and Girls Affected by Violence and Harassment in Jordan”  prepared by ActionAid Arab Regional Office.

The survey was conducted in partnership with trade unions and the Maal Centre, and targetted 2,323 workers, of whom 84 per cent were Jordanians, including 85 per cent women, as well as migrant workers in eight industrial zones:  Karak, Zarqa, Amman, Aljoun Aqaba, Irbid, Jerash and Madaba.

Some of the findings revealed that the more the workplace “is considered dangerous, the more there are cases of violence and harassment”.

Around 25 per cent of women subjected to violence and harassment at work were trainees, followed by 21 per cent who were paid on a daily basis, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, one in three migrant Arab women reported being subjected to some form of violence or harassment while at the workplace.

“While there has been significant progress in shifting the legal framework, with much thanks to Jordan’s women’s movement, there remain serious implementation gaps which prevent justice,” said ActionAid regional director Caroline McCausland.

These gaps are caused by barriers to justice on all levels — particularly social barriers, institutional barriers and material and economic barriers, McCausland told The Jordan Times.

She added that the survey includes a detailed investigation of violence and harassment in the workplace. 

“This is a Jordan-led initiative formed at the demand of Jordanian stakeholders, including the women’s rights movement and trade unionists,” she explained.

Meanwhile, International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Gender Technical Specialist Reem Aslan said ActionAid’s “in-depth study is quite timely, as it is in line with the ILO’s recent convention (No. 190) concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, adopted at the International Labour Conference in June, 2019”. 

The survey provides concrete statistics that can guide Jordan’s future plans, especially plans of the government, the civil society, trade unions and employer associations, as all employees have the right to decent work conditions free of any kind of violence or harassment, Aslan said. 

“We are glad to see that the Ministry of Labour and the General Federation of Trade Unions have taken some steps in providing better protection through including a protection policy in the by-laws of enterprises and in the Collective Bargaining Agreements,” Aslan told The Jordan Times.

The survey pointed out several recommendations, including ratifying and adopting the ILO Convention No. 190 to ensure that all workers are protected from violence and harassment in the workplace.

It also called for developing a national action plan to support the implementation of ILO Convention 190 and ensure political follow-through, including adequate national budgets for implementation and rigorous monitoring mechanisms. 

Other recommendations included supporting women’s human rights organisations, trade unions and labour organisations to monitor the progress of implementation, conduct strategic litigation and provide expert advice.

ActionAid Regional Advisor Khawlah Wazani said the official launch of the full results of the survey will take place in December.

“The organisation is in the process of organising a local campaign to combat harassment and violence at the workplace as part of its worldwide campaign,” Wazani said.

 The survey was developed in partnership with the Maal Centre, represented by key trade unionists, as well as women’s rights and legal experts in Jordan, according to McCausland.

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