The EU would like to reiterate its firm commitment to advancing gender equality, to promoting and protecting the human rights of all girls and women and to empowering them at all levels around the world. This is one of the fundamental principles of the European Union which inspires and informs our action worldwide.
Preventing, countering, investigating and prosecuting all forms of violence and discrimination against girls and women is a longstanding priority for the EU. It features prominently in the EU's internal and external policies in stable, conflict and post-conflict situations.
We welcome this morning’s panel, which is a unique opportunity to shed light on all forms of violence and harassment in the world of work. There can be no decent work when there is violence at work. This is valid both within and outside the European Union.
Statistics confirm that women are disproportionately affected by violence, harassment and unwanted sexual attention on a daily basis because of their employment status, the type of work they carry out, or because of the conditions in the sector in which they work. Digitalisation has certainly brought huge working opportunities, but has also reinforced and normalised gender roles and cultural customs of misogyny, marginalisation, and violence against women. Cyberbullying is a complex and insidious form of violence and harassment at work.
Over the last years, the EU has reinforced its policy framework to underpin actions to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women in the world of work. The EU has been funding several successful projects, which have contributed to producing guidance, modelling workplace policies and training workplace representatives to negotiate agreements and policies to tackle violence and sexual harassment at work, including domestic violence at work. Examples are a Best Practices Guide for companies on how to prevent and respond to violence against women in the workplace, and to support victims, and the development by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) of trade unions’ strategies to prevent, manage and eliminate workplace harassment and violence against women.
Today's discussion could not have been timelier as the new Convention supplemented by a Recommendation concerning violence and harassment in the world of work has just been adopted. The European Union has been extremely active in the discussions with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) since the very beginning of this process two years ago. Over that period we remained engaged with all UN member states, observer states, representatives of civil society, and other stakeholders. Such a diversity of voices is critical to advance our common agenda.
The EU thanks the Government of Canada for their initiative in bringing the issue of violence against women in the world of work to the current session of the HRC. We hope that today’s panel debates will inform those discussions. The EU stands ready to engage constructively in the discussions.
We would be grateful if the panellists could further elaborate on the impact of violence in the world of work on women's daily lives and if there are any specific actions that global, regional, national, sub-national and local actors can take in this regard.