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The Women Committee at the National Organization of Trade Unions in Uganda (NOTU) has initiated a campaign focusing on ending violence at the work place.
This campaign dubbed “Say No to Violence Against Women” is intended to enlist female workers in the country to understand and fight against violence against women at work places and to empower women to become ambassadors of change in their communities.
Annet Birungi, the National Secretary Women Committee NOTU says the three-month campaign will be pushing for government and nongovernment players in the country to work together to advocate for the ratification of the new International Labour Organization treaty on violence and harassment, against women at work.
ILO member governments, worker representatives, and employers’ organizations spent two years negotiating the text and voted overwhelmingly to adopt the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment Against Women on June 21, 2019 in Geneva.
The new ILO convention affirms the right to freedom from violence and harassment in the workplace; and provides for an integrated, inclusive, and gender-responsive approach for the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.
Governments including Uganda that ratify the treaty will be required to develop national laws prohibiting workplace violence and to take preventive measures, such as information campaigns and requiring companies and government to have workplace policies on violence.
The treaty also obligates governments to monitor the issue and provide access to remedies through complaint mechanisms, witness protection measures, and victim services, and to provide measures to protect victims and whistle-blowers from retaliation.
The NOTU women committee led by their chairperson Agnes Kim Atwooki are now preparing to petition the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga to push for law amendments concerning violence against women.
“Part of our scheduled activities is to meet with the current Ministry of Gender and Labour and Social Development Minister to remind him that before Pius Bigirimana leaving the ministry, he had promised to conclude the process of ratification and if we do not get positive response from him we shall petition the speaker” Atwooki said.
Currently, Uganda’s Domestic Violence Act does not cover cohabiting partners, while the 2004 amendment to the Land Act of 1998 requires spousal consent to sex, but does not recognize co-ownership of land between spouses.
The Land Act also fails to require customary land tenure systems to permit women to act as managers of customary land, and creates weak protections for widows who seek to inherit their husband’s land.
The Employment Act, 2006 restricts punitive action in sexual harassment cases at work to an employer or his representative.