PSI Southern Africa region welcomes Namibia’s ratification of C190

PSI Southern Africa warmly welcomes the ratification of the ILO Convention 190 on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work by the Namibian government as the world ended the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Ratification of this Convention is one of the most important ways in which we can make meaningful changes to end all forms of violence and harassment, including gender-based violence (GBV). This is because ratification leads to structural changes that would see changes to national, regional, and local legislation to protect workers against violence and harassment, including GBV. C190 places obligation on governments, employers and workers to ensure that the workplaces are safe and that member states develop programs and policies that address GBV.

C190 places obligation on governments, employers and workers to ensure that the workplaces are safe and that member states develop programs and policies that address GBV

The Region stood with the world as it engaged in the 16 days of activism against GBV. The 16 days of activism against GBV is an indictment of a deep rooted social ill that needs to be uprooted in our societies. We now call on our affiliates and members to remember that the commitments made need to be implemented in our every day lives. High rates of gender-based violence, rape, femicide, and other verbal, physical and sexual offences have become headline news for many years now with Southern Africa being the most notorious.

Currently the GBV has put our region under siege. GBV is a gross violation of human rights. It has astronomical consequences on the victims and their families. GBV has been a regional concern over the years but it reached epidemic levels from 2009 when Botswana became second to South Africa in the log table for incidences of rape in the world. This is not just mere statistics but the number of people whose lives are ravaged by a scourge that our civic and political leaders should speedily address.

To reverse the scourge of GBV, there is need for a comprehensive engagement with all critical stakeholders from government, civil society organizations, traditional leaders, curriculum developers, faith-based organizations, business, and the ordinary citizenry. Only recently, in Botswana between the 23rd March and 5th April 2020, following introduction of the Covid-19 pandemic control measures, Botswana Police Services registered 31 cases of defilement and 22 cases of rape. These are too high statistical figures for such a short period. Coupled with unreported cases this paints a gloomy picture for the future of Botswana and the Southern Africa Region.

In conclusion we call upon trade unions in Southern Africa countries to lobby their governments to ratify Convention 190. We will be looking to Zimbabwe, Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique, Mauritius and Rodriguez, and Lesotho to ratify C190 thereby ensuring safe working environments free from violence and harassment.

We call upon trade unions in Southern Africa countries to lobby their governments to ratify Convention 190

We call upon the SADC community to speak loud and clear against GBV in its various forms. GBV appears in many shades and some of these forms include the following:

  1. Violence against women and girls, (VAWG)

  2. Violence against LGBTI people

  3. Intimate partner violence (IPV)

  4. Domestic violence (DV)

  5. Sexual violence (SV)

  6. Indirect (structural) violence

The above types of violence are gendered in nature, based on the power inequalities that are entrenched in our societies.

The World Population Review report advices that ‘Many of the countries with high rape statistics need to look beyond just legislation to fix the problem. These countries need to look at the deep, systematic dysfunction of their cultures and social norms that have not prevented and do not prevent sexual violence’.

We therefore welcome C190 as one attempt to address this dysfunction and make our workplaces safer for workers. We urge and call on other countries in the region to follow in the Namibian governments footsteps and ratify C190.


Article by Patriciah Raditladi - PSI Southern Africa Women's Committee Chairperson.