Women workers push for immediate implementation of ILO Convention 190 to end violence in the workplace

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Women workers from various labor groups called for the “immediate implementation of Convention 190 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to end violence in workplaces across the country.”

ILO Convention No. 190 (C190) is the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

At a recent gathering of women trade union leaders in Quezon City to launch Women’s Month, the Women Workers United (WWU) cited the ratification of ILO C190 by the Philippine Senate in December 2023, the 37th country in the world and the first country in Asia to sign the international treaty.

“The ratification of the C190 by the Philippine Senate behooves the government to ensure an end to violence in all workplaces—in all industries, sectors, economic activities, whether public or private, formal or informal, without exception,” the WWU said.


The WWU spearheaded the “Women Workers’ Forum on the ILO Convention 190: Moving forward in Policy and Practice,” together with women trade union leaders from major labor centers in the country. The forum was supported by the ILO’s project, “Improving workers’ rights in the rural sectors of the Indo Pacific with a Focus on Women.”

Dr. Annie Geron, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) president and WWU co-convenor commended government for ratifying ILO C. 190 in December 2023 while calling for the alignment of PH national laws, policies, programs and practices with C190.

“Against the backdrop of continued attacks against workers’ right to freedom of association, the continued killings, illegal arrests, surveillance, red tagging of trade unionists—the ratification of C190 provided a much-needed victory for workers,” said Geron.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) deposited the PH government’s ratification instrument to the ILO in Geneva. As agreed with ILO, the treaty will enter into force in the Philippines on Feb. 20, 2025.

“We need to ensure that all workers are protected from violence and harassment—regardless of employment status and whether from the private or public sectors, or from the formal or informal economy, including migrant workers and all workers in vulnerable situations such as those in the rural sector,” Geron said.


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Women Workers United (WWU) and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) Women’s Network leaders with Julius Cainglet, FFW vice president for Research, Advocacy and Partnerships

In his opening address, ILO Manila Director Khalid Hassan said that “the Convention is the first international treaty to recognize the fundamental right to a workplace free from violence and harassment, including those gender-based.”

“Mostly cases of such violence remain unreported. Reluctance and fear of speaking up in the workplace persist because there is too much at stake or there are insufficient mechanisms. This forum aims to strengthen mechanisms and integrate OSH to address such cases, particularly among women in rural areas and vulnerable sectors,” Hassan said.

She added: “We value your commitment and strong stance on zero tolerance for violence and harassment. We have made considerable progress to advance women’s rights and here comes an opportunity to take action.”


In the Philippines, the Committees on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) is the workplace-based mechanism tasked to address sexual harassment cases as mandated by Republic Act (RA) 7877, An act declaring sexual harassment unlawful in the employment, education or training environment.

However, Arlene Golloso, Federation of Free Workers (FFW) board member and Union president of Ateneo De Davao University Employees Union-FFW, bared that not all companies have CODIs, and if there is one, there is no guarantee of having a workers’ representative there.

“It’s not just protection, but prevention. There are laws, that include the Safe Spaces Act, but the gaps are in the lack of awareness of workers on what is acceptable behavior or not. We need to equip and capacitate members of the CODI to handle cases and have a well stablished system for reporting and handling of cases—one that protects a victim who reports gender-based violence,” Golloso explained.

She added: “We need to consider the context of each individual and handle not just the technical and legal, but the psychological and human aspects, as well.”


Workers in the public sector are just as wary. “Pag nagsumbong ang non-regular may trabaho pa ba sila bukas [If a non-regular worker reports abuses, will they have work thereafter]?” asked Rem Sta. Ana, union president of Personnel Organization of University of Rizal System (POURS-PSLINK).

She likewise mentioned that the penalties are too insignificant and do not deter perpetrators of gender-based violence.

Mimi Doringo of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said that things are worse for women informal workers. “Vendors are direct victims of violence as they protect and try to retrieve their merchandise that authorities confiscate without warning. Vendors borrow to be able to buy and then sell their wares or produce. That is why they struggle to protect their merchandise.”

Doringo also lamented how they are deprived of access to barangay facilities. “We cannot use the facilities in the barangay. Vendors do not have access to quality health care.”


WWU said their group shall submit the workshop outputs from the forum, where the women workers discussed in detail the set of recommendations that they will submit to the DOLE so as to align laws and practice to ILO C. 190.

The WWU co-convenors are Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, PSLINK, FFW, KMK and Gabriela. Jacq Ruiz of Kilusang Malayang Kababaihan (KMK) presented the recommendations.

“Effective advocacy starts with awareness and information, and we applaud and thank you for taking action today through this forum. Together, we can accelerate progress, advance social justice and ensure no one is left behind,” ILO Manila Director Khalid Hassan said.



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