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Awareness-raising and campaigns

Last edited: July 08, 2020

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Many employers, trade unions, and NGOs include awareness-raising and information, and run campaigns to end violence and harassment against women in the world of work, as part of an integrated strategy to end violence and harassment against women. In isolation, awareness-raising is not always effective, but it can form an important part of combined strategies linked to prevention.

Awareness-raising and campaigns to end violence and harassment against women at work

The “Ya Basta” movement in California USA, to stop sexual harassment and sexual abuse against janitors (Yeung, 2018)[1]

A campaign by women night shift janitors in California to stand up to sexual harassment and assault has helped bring visibility to this hidden problem. In 2016, the union - Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West - representing janitors in California, discovered that the majority of their members had either witnessed or experienced sexual harassment at work. Worker consultations showed that around half of the 5,000 workers who responded to the survey said they had been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted at work, and another quarter had witnessed it.

The union’s campaign involved advocacy throughout the State, with signs that read, “Ya Basta”, (“Enough is enough”, in Spanish), and a hunger strike in front of the California legislature. The union and The Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund supported women workers to take leadership roles through an anti-sexual violence program designed for janitors by the East Los Angeles Women’s Center. Women were trained as “promotoras” (community-based trainers), to assist other women who had been sexually-harassed at work.  The campaign led to the successful passage of the Property Services Workers Protection Act, which requires anti-sexual harassment training for all janitors.  Employers that do not comply by 2019 will not be able to do business in California, and perpetrators will be held accountable.

A coalition of workers’ rights and anti-sexual violence organizations have created the Ya Basta Coalition which is developing effective anti-sexual harassment training for low-income workers.

UNI Global Union “Break the Circle” campaign[2]

Aware that violence is deeply embedded in culture, UNI Global Union has placed emphasis on raising awareness about violent attitudes and actions and is finding ways to address them at an individual and societal level. The “Break the Circle!” Campaign has produced videos, documents, toolkits, a blog where affiliates share their campaign activities on violence, and a campaign website (http://en.breakingthecircle.org).

Each year, the campaign has focused on a new topic, ranging from combating inequality that generates violence, to the different faces of violence. Themes have included violence against women and girls, the economic costs of violence, the impact of violence in the media, and ending gender-based violence at work.

ITUC campaign “Stop Gender Based Violence at Work” (ITUC, 2017a)

In 2017, the ITUC launched a global campaign, “Stop Gender-Based Violence at Work”, with the aim of gaining widespread support for an ILO Convention on violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work and bringing gender-based violence to the centre of the campaign. As a part of this work, ITUC has developed a high-profile social media campaign, a campaign toolkit and a regular newsletter.

Joint union task force on sexual harassment in Denmark is campaigning to end sexual harassment at work

A union task force against sexual harassment has been established between four Danish trade unions (3F, HK-Denmark, Serviceforbundet Teknisk Landsforbund and Fængselsforbundet) to raise awareness on sexual harassment. The objective of the task force is to develop common union strategies on raising awareness and addressing the issue. Strategies being discussed include how to increase sanctions, public awareness-raising on sexual harassment, common strategies on work environment guidelines, and the use of litigation, including the EU Court of Justice. A recent successful hearing organized by the Task Force in the Danish parliament led the Government to agree to drafting new legislation to end sexual harassment at work. The task force has a media strategy, linked to a Facebook campaign, “Over Stregen” (“crossing the line”).[3]

Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, Chile “Gender Agenda” campaign

The Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Chile (CUT Chile) ran a “Gender Agenda” campaign to tackle violence at work and at home. The campaign gives special urgency to the need for response mechanisms and effective sanctions against perpetrators. It has been successful in raising awareness of violence at work and has encouraged women to report cases of sexual harassment and violence.

CUT Chile documented consultations and workshops with women about violence at the workplace (CUT Chile, 2014). This called for improved legislation to criminalize and punish sexual harassment, including improved processes and procedures for making confidential complaints and carrying out independent investigations. “Guidelines for prevention of harassment directed at public sector workers from a gender perspective” has been developed with information about how violence affects women at work, the types of violence experienced by women and how to identify violence. The campaign has led to more women making complaints about sexual harassment and increased awareness that violence at work is unacceptable.



[2] UNI Global Union is a global union federation representing more than 20 million workers across the world in commerce, services and professional and managerial occupations and related sectors.

[3] See Over Stregen (in Danish):  https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=over%20stregen%20-%20seksuel%20chikane

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