National women’s strike in Switzerland

Women across Switzerland are taking to the streets today for a national women’s strike. The strike is taking place in the midst of crucial negotiations on international rules to tackle violence and harassment at work, taking place in the context of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva.

Among their national demands in Switzerland, women are calling for equal pay, investment in the care sector, recognition of the real value of unpaid women’s work at home and in the community and zero tolerance of gender-based violence, as well as for effective measures to prevent both psychological and physical harassment. #MeToo highlighted the global scale of the violence and harassment that women endure. Delegates to the International Labour Organization’s Centenary have been wearing purple to show their support and highlight the need for international rules.

“The call has been resonating throughout the world and is now echoing through the streets Geneva and Switzerland. Women are demanding equal treatment. A working environment free from violence and harassment underpins any progress to achieving this. I am confident that together, governments, workers and employers will send a clear message that violence and harassment are no longer tolerated in the world of work,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

Progress towards gender equality has stagnated over the past decade and today the number of women that have experienced violence and harassment still stands at 818 million. Women are responding and, over the past 24 months, they have led historic mobilisations across the world. From extension of paid maternity leave in the Philippines, to new legal measures to protect workers from misuse of non-disclosure agreements in the UK, women and their unions have achieved real progress in the world of work.

“Geneva today is a testament to the global women’s rising we have seen over the past two years. Women have been rightfully taking their struggle to the workplace, which is central to the persistence of gender-inequalities. The depth of our determination is streaming through the streets and flying high above the buildings and together we are making ground towards a fairer world of work.

“What is promising is that some employers have been also stepping up and showing the world what is possible. We have seen the application of new and innovative workplace policies, training and grievance mechanisms that are making a real difference to the lives of working women. It is time to consolidate and generalise these practices,” said Burrow.

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