Annual full-day discussion on Hr women

Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women – Panel 1: Violence against women in the world of work. Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Eight, as delivered by Minister Counsellor Herborg Alvsaaker on 27 June.

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I have the honor of reading this statement on behalf of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and my own country Norway.

We would like to thank the panelists for their valuable contributions to this timely and important discussion.

It is a great concern that half of the population fear violence and abuse at work. Women should be able to go to work every day without fear of becoming victims of sexual violence and harassment, or verbal and physical abuse. This should be a fact, not an ambition. While violence and harassment in the world of work can affect both men and women, we have to pay attention to the significant gender dimension when searching for solutions to this challenge. While women make up almost half of the world’s working-age population, only about 50 % of women participate in the labor force, compared to 80 % of men. And among working women, a significant proportion works in the informal sector, with limited social and labor protection.

While we strive to make decent work available to all, we must be aware that this ambition is further away from being realized for women than for men. Of the 40 million people that live in modern slavery, a higher proportion are women.

This is a serious challenge that needs to be addressed at both national and international level. We welcome that this important topic was high on the agenda during this year’s International Labor Conference. We support the efforts to put in place a global framework to increase women’s participation and protection against human rights abuses in the world of work.

This is an issue that must be dealt with through a holistic approach. It is a leadership issue, it is a legal issue, it is a cultural issue and it is, more than anything else, an issue of responsibility. We have a responsibility to make violence against women an issue of the past and not a continuous problem for the future.

Dear panelists, in order to progress on the issue of violence at work we need to activate both men and women as active agents of change. How do we create a space in which it is possible for both men and women to speak up against violence and abuse at work? And what must be done to fight impunity for the offenders?