#UN; #InternationalWidowsDay; #Covid19Pandemic; #Discrimination
Geneva, Jun 23 (Canadian-Media): When countries begin building back from the COVID-19 pandemic they must also work towards dismantling laws that discriminate against women, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for International Widow’s Day on Tuesday.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jeanette Buse Lasi, a widowed mother of four, sits with her children inside a communal shelter in an IDP camp in Bunia.
Image credit: © UNICEF/Guy Hubbard
“The death of a partner at any time can leave many women without rights to inheritance or property. In times of a pandemic, these losses are often multiplied for widows and accompanied by stigma and discrimination”, he explained.
As deaths due to COVID-19 continue to rise in many places, especially for men, International Widow’s Day provides an opportunity to focus on what the UN chief has described as “an all-too-often forgotten dimension of the crisis”.
He said the isolation and economic hardships brought on by the pandemic can further compromise widows’ ability to support themselves and their families, cutting them off from social connections at a time of profound grief.
Unseen, unsupported, unmeasured
Widows have already largely been invisible in society, according to the head of UN Women, the UN agency striving for full gender equality.
They are also often unsupported, while data about them is scant, meaning their numbers go unmeasured. Latest figures, which are from 2015, estimate there are nearly 260 million worldwide
“The actual number is likely to be much higher and to grow further as the coronavirus and its related effects on health continue to rage around the world”, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director at UN Women.
As the Secretary-General pointed out, more men than women are dying from COVID-19.
The agency said men account for nearly 60 per cent of coronavirus deaths in Mexico, nearly 70 per cent in Italy, and 77 per cent in Thailand, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
As a result of these losses, tens of thousands more women could now be newly widowed.
Lessons from pandemics past
Experience from past pandemics, such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola, reveal how widows suffer much more than just the loss of a partner.
They have been denied inheritance rights, had property taken from them, and been shunned for being perceived as “carriers” of disease, amid other discrimination and stigma.
“Worldwide, women are much less likely to have access to old age pensions than men, so the death of a spouse can lead to destitution for older women”, said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“In the context of lockdowns and economic closures, widows may not have access to bank accounts and pensions to pay for healthcare if they too become ill or to support themselves and their children. With lone-mother families and single older women already particularly vulnerable to poverty, this is an area that needs urgent attention.”
Structural changes overdue
UN Women stated that overall, the impacts of the pandemic have been worse for women and girls, across all spheres, from health, to the economy, to security and social protection.
The Secretary-General has called on governments to include support for widows’ immediate needs in any fiscal stimulus programs, to address the crisis.
He is also pushing for reforms that benefit all women going forward.
“And as we work to build back better from this crisis, recovery efforts must be accompanied by long-term structural changes, including ending discriminatory laws that deny women equal rights to men and ensuring the availability of social protection, so that women do not start out at a disadvantage”, he said.
“We also need quality data, broken down by age and sex, to ensure that widows are counted and supported, now and in the future.”
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka has echoed the appeal.
“Widows must not be left out of our work to ‘build back better’ from COVID-19,” she said. “Let us ensure that our recovery prioritizes their unique needs and supports societies to be more inclusive, resilient and equal for all.”
#ILO; #sexualHarassment, #workplaceViolence, #internationalLabourStandards, #Uruguay
New York/Geneva, Jun 13 (Canadian-Media): ILO’s landmark Convention No. 190, on violence and harassment in the work environment, has received its first ratification, taking it a step closer to entering into force, ILO reported on June 12.
Ricardo González Arenas, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations in Geneva, deposited the instrument of ratification with ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, in a virtual ceremony. Image credit: ILO
Uruguay has become the first country to ratify the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) , a year after it was adopted by the International Labour Conference.
Ricardo González Arenas, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations in Geneva, deposited the instrument of ratification with ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, in a virtual ceremony.
With only two ratifications needed for Convention No. 190 to enter into force, this first ratification represents an important step in the process.
“Uruguay considers that the cross-cutting nature of Convention No.190 makes it a very useful tool to improve the legal and labor relations framework already existing in the country,” said González Arenas. “These instruments correlate with the challenges of the future of work, which are linked to workers’ increased mobility, the diversification of employment contracts and the impact of new information and communication technologies in labour relations. Adapting to the most modern dynamics of our societies, where factors such as competitiveness, innovation, lifelong learning and efficacy have an unquestionable relevance, requires additional instruments to ensure that workers are protected and their rights respected.”
Convention No. 190 is the first international treaty to address violence and harassment in the world of work.
Together with Recommendation No. 206 , it provides a common framework for action and a unique opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect, and underlines the right of everyone to a world free from violence and harassment. It includes the first international definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence.
“Uruguay considers that the cross-cutting nature of Convention No.190 makes it a very useful tool to improve the legal and labour relations framework already existing in the country. These instruments correlate with the challenges of the future of work."
Ricardo González Arenas, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations in Geneva
The Convention applies to the public and private sectors, formal and informal economies, and urban and rural areas. It protects everyone in the world of work, irrespective of their contractual status.
The Convention also requires ratifying member States to adopt, in consultation with representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment, through prevention, protection and enforcement measures and remedies, as well as guidance, training and awareness-raising.
It also recognizes the different and complementary roles and functions of governments, employers and workers and their respective organizations, taking into account the varying nature and extent of their responsibilities. The Convention and Recommendation also reaffirm ILO’s crucial standard-setting role. They are tangible evidence of the enduring value and strength of social dialogue and tripartism, which will be essential in implementing them at national level.
González Arenas referred to “Uruguay’s long-lasting tradition and strong commitment to the multilateral system and, particularly, to the ILO”. He described the ILO as a normative tripartite organization that helps countries improve their citizens’ living conditions and achieve balanced industrial relations where the interests of all social partners are duly protected.
“The framework provided by Convention No. 190 is, more than ever, of utmost importance during the current COVID-19 pandemic... Convention No. 190 has a crucial role in shaping a human-centered response and recovery that tackles injustice and supports the building of a better normal, free from violence and harassment, " Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General said.
“For all these reasons, the national parliament approved the instrument on 17 December 2019 and, by passing Law 19.849, and depositing the instrument of ratification, Uruguay has become the first country to ratify this Convention,” he said.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, thanked the Uruguyan President, Luis Lacalle Pou, for his country’s ratification. “The framework provided by Convention No. 190 is, more than ever, of utmost importance during the current COVID-19 pandemic, since many forms of work-related violence and harassment have been reported across countries since the outbreak began,” Ryder said. “Convention No. 190 has a crucial role in shaping a human-centered response and recovery that tackles injustice and supports the building of a better normal, free from violence and harassment. The ratification also reflects Uruguay’s longstanding commitment to the ILO’s mission, as well as its intention to make clear that violence and harassment in the world of work will not be tolerated. It is hoped that other countries will follow suit.”
Uruguay was also the first ILO member State to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) , which was the last ILO Convention to be adopted, prior to Convention No. 190.