Gender-based violence and harrassment

Catalysing the private sector in the fight against GBVH

Gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) is a widespread and serious global issue that affects individuals in the workplace, their communities, and the home. GBVH is an umbrella term and can take many forms including physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm. It is directed at a person because of their sex or gender, or by disproportionately affecting persons of a particular sex or gender. While GBVH can affect anyone, it is predominantly perpetrated by men against women and girls: an estimated one in three women worldwide has experienced some form of physical or sexual violence.

There is growing recognition that the private sector has an important role to play in identifying risk factors, preventing occurrences, and responding effectively when incidents do occur. Because of the negative impact on individuals, businesses are affected by risks to their employees’ mental and physical health and productivity as well as exposure to legal and reputational risks.

Addressing GBVH in the private sector is a relatively new and complex area. In June 2019, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) established a new global standard to combat violence and harassment in the world of work, including GBVH, with its Convention No. 190. This Convention recognises that GBVH is a threat to equal opportunities and is incompatible with decent work, which are both core priorities of BII. As countries work to adopt this Convention, new laws will come into effect, and companies will have to meet these higher expectations.

BII, in partnership with the EBRD and the IFC, developed Addressing GenderBased Violence and Harassment: Emerging Good Practice for the Private Sector, which focuses on practical guidance for addressing GBVH risks, with an emphasis on emerging markets.

While GBVH is systemic, it can also be difficult to detect. Training is required to respond to it appropriately. As more private sector players realise the importance of addressing GBVH, it is essential that they know how to reduce the likelihood and manage incidents of GBVH. The Guidance is sector-agnostic but includes short briefings outlining the key risks and mitigation entry points in manufacturing, transport, construction, education, hospitality and agribusiness.

Unlike the ILO Convention, the Guidance does not set new standards or requirements but rather provides practical guidance on how to better prevent and respond to GBVH. By bringing this difficult topic to the fore, the development finance partners hope to continue an important conversation and build knowledge to prevent risk factors and incidents as much as possible.

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