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Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is prevalent in the horticulture sector. Women are hired to do the lowest-paid jobs, whereas men often fulfill supervisory or managerial roles. This imbalance of power, combined with wages too low to live a decent life, leads to many sexual harassment incidents.

Even though national legislation often requires sexual harassment policies at the workplace, many farms lack such a policy or don't enforce it. Due to cultural factors, sexual harassment is oftentimes not seen as socially wrong, which means that people do not report the incidences. The gender committees who are assigned to deal with cases of sexual harassment do often not have the time, space or technical capacity to do so.

Our work

In 2015, Workers’ Rights Watch in collaboration with Women Working Worldwide and funded by Hivos, developed the model sexual harassment policy. This policy provides a definition for sexual harassment and a framework of measures and structures to combat sexual harassment at the workplace. The Women@Work Campaign works with farms for the adoption and implementation of the policy.

Furthermore, the Campaign trains farm management and gender committees on how to minimize sexual harassment and deal with cases reported. We also sensitize workers about the definition of sexual harassment, so they can identify sexual misconduct.

Rwanda flower farm

Through the social performance impact scan, offered and conducted by CSR Africa, companies can get an insight into the levels of sexual harassment at their farm as well as advice on measures they can take to reduce it.

Our work does not stop at the farm level. We lobby national governments to improve legislation around workplace sexual harassment, both at the national and international level. Through public campaigning, we make consumers more aware about the dark side of the flower industry and help them to make better choices.

Accomplishments

Our multi-stakeholder approach, working with workers, farm management and government has paid off. Since the start of the Campaign, over 200 farms have adopted and implemented the model sexual harassment policy. More than 85 gender committees have been set up and/or trained to deal with sexual harassment cases. The model sexual harassment policy has been translated into local languages, and over 12,000 workers have been trained and sensitized about the topic of sexual harassment. Training of women workers has resulted in an increase in reporting of sexual harassment cases. Contributing to that is the self-help sexual harassment evidence collection tool, which has been developed by the Platform for Labour Action (PLA).

Also the Kenya Flower Council and Fairtrade Africa have adopted the model sexual harassment policy as the standard framework for addressing sexual harassment at Kenyan flower farms, and they have begun the process of incorporating these commitments into the text of their certification audit framework. In Uganda, the policy has been adopted as a horticulture sector policy to be entrenched into the sector Corporate Binding Agreement (CBA), which is binding to all horticulture farms under Uganda Flowers Exporters Association (UFEA).

On the international level, the Women@Work Campaign has lobbied for the adoption of the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (C190) through opinion articles, online campaigns and talks with the government. We have also created awareness around the topic at international platforms; for example, through the organization of side-events during the Commission on the Status of Women.

Related news and views

  • Promoting women rights in flower farms is good for business

    04/04/2020

    Examining the gendered needs and rights of employees working in the flower farms has never been timelier. While women account for 70 to 80 percent of workers in the highly lucrative horticulture sector, they are often in seasonal employment or taking on board as casual laborers. Since they are encumbered by the reproductive and care roles, flower farms seems to prefer men to women when it comes to permanent employment.

  • Campaign leaves major footprints in transforming the welfare of women working in floriculture sector

    29/03/2020

    More than four years ago, Hivos embarked on a major campaign to address and improve the working conditions of women working on the horticultural value chain: the Women@Work Campaign. In 2020, faces of happiness and stories of success in improving their welfare can be told.

  • Ratify ILO Convention governments urged

    18/03/2020

    Civil society organizations have intensified calls on African governments to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the world of work. The CSOs want the member states to ratify the Convention to achieve the decent work agenda.