Some 43 people have signed a letter demanding that the UK government do more to protect the rights of women in the workforce.
It’s 2019, and still women are the victims of violence and sexual harassment at work.
According to a recent study by the BBC, half of British women surveyed had experienced harassment at work. Of that number, some 63% did not report the experience and kept it to themselves. The most common form of harassment was inappropriate jokes or “banter”, which a quarter of those surveyed had experienced. Around one in 10 women who took part in the survey had been sexually assaulted.
This needs to stop. Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski has joined with more than 40 other prominent British figures including MP Jess Phillips, activist Helen Pankhurst, director Sarah Gavron, musician Melanie C and actor Anne-Marie Duff to call for the UK government to pledge an end to sexual harassment and violence in the workforce.
In an open letter published in the Guardian today and organised by CARE International, the signatories say that the forthcoming International Labour Conference in Geneva will be the moment for the UK Government to negotiate for a binding global law that protects women in the workplace. Every one of the letter’s signatories is also a support of March4Women.
“Governments, employers and workers are meeting in Geneva for the International Labour Conference to negotiate a new global convention to end violence and harassment in the world of work,” the letter reads. “We urge them to remember the 235 million women around the world who work without any legal protection because one in three countries have no laws against sexual harassment at work.”
The letter continues: “It is the poorest women who are the most vulnerable – domestic workers, factory workers, those women living hand-to-mouth who cannot afford to risk their jobs by standing up for themselves and for each other. An international law is urgently needed.”
The signatories on the letter, which also include Michael Sheen, Paloma Faith and Harriet Harman, urge the UK Government to stand firm in ensuring that the new convention will feature a protection for the rights of women. And that means all women, the letter reads, from “the Hollywood studios to the factory floors of Cambodia and serviced households of Latin America. Because abuse isn’t in anyone’s job description.”
You can read the letter in full here.