Amman (Better Work Jordan News) –On the occasion of the first anniversary of the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment, Better Work Jordan has launched a new collaborative project with the International Finance Corporation and national stakeholders to address gender-based violence. The program will support national stakeholders in addressing gender-based violence with a focus on the Al-Hassan industrial zone.
The 18 month project aims to address gender-based violence in the workplace by raising awareness among workers, building the capacity of factory middle management, and by improving access of workers, particularly migrant workers, to grievance mechanisms and support organizations.
“Our collaboration with the IFC today builds on the successful partnership between IFC and ILO, as well as our collaboration with key national stakeholders, to create a positive change in the lives of thousands of workers in the Jordanian garment sector,” said Tareq Abu Qaoud, Better Work Jordan Programme Manager. “Through this project, we aim to create leading examples in addressing gender based violence inside factories and have a ripple effect across the industry.”
“IFC and ILO have closely collaborated through our Better Work global partnership over the past 10 years. In Jordan, we work together to develop strategic approaches to achieve systematic and sustainable improvements in working conditions. It will support significant gains in productivity in the garment industry, contribute to economic development and help improve the quality of life of thousands of workers, the majority of who are women,” said Dalia Wahba, IFC’s country manager for the Levant countries.
In June 2019, the International Labour Conference (ILC) adopted the first standards on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, namely the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No.190) and its accompanying recommendations (No. 206).
This year, the ILO marks the first anniversary of the Convention under exceptional circumstances, as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll across economic sectors, including the garment and apparel industry. The crisis has raised concerns among migrant workers in Jordan -who make up roughly 75 per cent of the workforce – on health and safety issues and increased level of stress.
The Better Work programme, a joint initiative between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, brings together all levels of the garment industry to improve working conditions and respect for labour rights and boost the competitiveness of apparel businesses. In Jordan, the programme has been working with national stakeholders since its inception in 2009.
Jordan’s garment industry is one of the leading exporting industries in the country and in 2019, accounted for 23 per cent of the country’s total exports. A large number of Jordan’s garment factories are located in the economic zones in Dulayl, Irbid and Sahab, and women represent the majority of the sector’s workforce.
Violence and harassment are a common occurrence in the garment sector globally. While cases of sexual harassment tend to be underreported, in an anonymous survey conducted among 1700 workers across 77 factories in Jordan in December 2019, 17 per cent of surveyed workers reported that sexual harassment is a concern for them or their co-workers and 35 per cent reported concerns over verbal abuse.
To address these issues, stakeholders in the garment sector has stepped up their efforts. The most recent sector-wide collective bargaining agreement signed in December 2019 stipulates that all employers should take necessary steps and adapt policies that ensure protection from violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Better Work Jordan, through its factory level services, has been supporing factories to raise awareness on sexual harassment prevention and to improve factory-level grievance mechanisms for many years.
For more information on Convention 190, see: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/violence-harassment/lang–en/index.htm For information on the policy tools developed to adhere to this convention, see: http://mol.gov.jo/Pages/viewpage.aspx?pageID=220. For more information on Better Work’s approach to addressing sexual harassment in the workplace, see: https://betterwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SHP-Thematic-Brief.pdf