Ending Violence in the Workplace
Working Group Members,
the past six months we have focused our discussion on recommendations for the
Beijing +5 review process. WomenWatch, including UNIFEM and other UN agencies,
are currently compiling a document with recommendations to be considered by at
the UN General Assembly meeting in June 2000, when world leaders will review the
progress made since the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. We will
soon send you information on obtaining the document.
now like to turn our attention to a topic we have only barely touched upon since
the beginning of the Working Group: violence in the work place. As more and more
women enter the workplace, it has become increasingly important to consider the
relationship between female and male employees, particularly as sexual
intimidation by male co-workers has become more visible world-wide.
societies where women historically made up a significant segment of the (paid)
work force, like the postcommunist states of Central and Eastern Europe, women
still face major challenges in the work place. A recent article in the New York
Times reported that sexual harassment is very common in countries like the Czech
Republic, Hungary and Poland. Yet at the same time these societies tend to
perceive the idea of sexual harassment as a "Western plague" or
"invention of hysterical American feminists" that threatens to spoil
"natural" relations between men and women. Sexual harassment is rarely
codified as a criminal offence. Labor codes mostly include only piecemeal
stipulations that women can use to ensure a safe working environment.
next weeks to come we would like to learn from your experiences and knowledge
about violence in the work place. We propose to focus the discussion on the
is the current situation in your country? How is sexual harassment or violence
in the work place defined? Is there a public awareness about the existence of
sexual intimidation? Does legislation exist that can assist women in combating
what extent can legal strategies be effective, both as preventive and remedial
measures? Do you know of examples of successful legal strategies to combat
sexual harassment in the workplace? Are you aware of unsuccessful legal
measures, and if so, why were they not effective?
3. Do you
know of other successful strategies for reducing violence/harassment in the
workplace? Please tell us about them. For example, have there been effective
strategies to change cultural barriers? Or strategies to change relations of
power between men and women?
there any companies that have been highly successful in preventing
violence/harassment against women? What approaches did they use to achieve that
can we measure improvements in the levels of violence/harassment in the
workplace? Are there companies/countries that are using measures effectively?
always, we are grateful for your active participation and look forward to your
UNIFEM Task Force End-Violence Moderators