Minister Mukwaya calls for protection of women at work

The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Janat Mukwaya has called on labour actors at the international scene to ensure that more efforts are put into protecting women against violence and harassment at work.

Mukwaya observed that women are more often than men subjected to violence and harassment at work but unfortunately, although violence against women is widely acknowledged, few people raise a voice against the vice.

“For others, the violence and harassment because of conservative stereotypes, is seen as a reality that has to be tolerated as part of life. I am therefore pleased that the International Labour Organisation is working on an international labour standard on ending violence and harassment at work” She noted.

The Minister was speaking at the 107th Session of the International Labour Conference that’s underway in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference runs from 28 May –8 June 2018.

Gender Minister Janat Mukwaya (3rd R), Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana (2nd R) and other members on the Ugandan team with the Director General of ILO, Guy Ryder at the ongoing Labour Conference in Geneva

Mukwaya is leading the Government of Uganda delegation which also includes Mr. Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr. Peter Werikhe, Secretary General National Organisation of Trade Unions and Mr. Douglas Opio, the Executive Director of the Federation of Uganda Employers.

The International Labour Conference is the ILO’s highest decision-making body. It meets annually, bringing together the tripartite delegations from the Organization’s 187 member States and a number of observers from other international actors to consider a series of topics related to the world of work, placed on its agenda by the Governing Body of the ILO. The Conference is composed of a plenary and technical committees.

Among the committees is the Standard Setting Committee on violence and harassment in the world of work, where Uganda and particularly Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana was appointed Spokesperson for the Africa Group.

Mukwaya said this appointment was an honour in recognition of the many bold strides that the Government of Uganda has taken in ensuring that gender equality is a sine qua non of meaningful national development.

“We look forward to ably representing Africa, and to the overall fruitful deliberations in ensuring that violence and harassment at work is ended.” She added.

She appealed that the Standard setting should be followed by domestication in the various countries and establishment of well-resourced and functioning institutions against violence at work.

“Furthermore we must enable women to take their destiny into their hands through education, employment creation and enterprise development.”

“Similarly, imbalances in asset ownership especially land should also addressed. This is because where males own and control land, access to finance will also be skewed in favour of men yet capital is crucial for improvement of livelihoods of women through enterprise development.” The Minister noted.

She added that in the same spirit, governments should therefore give preferential consideration to women-owned enterprises in procurement as a measure of empowering women. She said that as of now, the majority of women are excluded from this business window.

Mukways further noted that although the ILO Declaration provides that “all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity”, the reality in the labour market remains a far cry from the aims and purpose of the ILO.

She cited that of the 192 million unemployed people in the world, 114 million of them are in developing countries.

“Gender gaps are also a matter of concern. A woman is associated globally with 30 per cent less chance of being in the labour force and often being at the bottom of the economic ladder. Women continue to be paid approximately 20 per cent less than men per month across the world, even when they are engaged in the same or work of equal value.” She said.

She added that Uganda welcomes the ILO-initiated women at work centenary initiative which aims to better understand and deliver decent work for women in the 21st Century.

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