WE MUST begin from the understanding that work is the central defining character, propeller and driver of Human Civilisation; as such, the world of work is basic and key to the course of human development.
In this context, the world of work is all-encompassing, and involves the conditions of work and of the worker in the place of work, in the home – that is in the family, as well as in the community and the wider society.
In order for humanity and human civilisation to evolve and develop in the interests, and responsive to the aspirations and concerns of all of humanity, then this world of work, and the conditions of this world of work must include and involve women, and not just men, and must be safe for women, and not just for men.
This is why Gender Based Violence (GBV), and in the context of working women, Violence Against Women (VAW) constitute the biggest danger, but also the consequence of the exclusion of women, and the lack of safety for women in the world of work.
Tackling GBV/VAW requires the prior recognition that Women have rights inherent to women because they are women, and that these women rights are human rights; understanding that human rights are indivisible and inalienable.
GBV and VAW are endemic because it has become an integral part of a particular way of life, in essence resulting in a pervasive nature of this culture.
Ending GBV and VAW is therefore directly central to ensuring and enabling Safe And Inclusive World Of Work for Women, and not just for Men.
This will require the Transformation of this particular way of life and human culture, through the deliberate, intentional and collective designing and implementing, in a participatory and inclusive manner, of policies, processes and practices that promote, engender, enable and enforce equity, equality, inclusion, fairness and justice in the social relationships and social interactions between and among Women and Men, at home (in the family), in the place of work (in the workplace), and in the Community and wider Society at large.
Safety, or the lack of it, as well as inclusion, or exclusion are direct products and results the nature and character of social relationships and interactions, between women and men, between the society and the environment/nature, as well as in the different ways in which Women and Men are conditioned to interact with their environment and nature.
If this is true, then ultimate priority must be given to enabling processes, practices and policies that change and transform these relationships and interactions.
In this regard, the ILO Convention 190 (C190), as well as Resolution 206 (R206), being products of intense struggle of the working people, and working women globally, are very central and key as policy platform with which to undertake this transformative task.
In Nigeria, this struggle has also ensured the ratification of C190 and R206; and this is a commendable victory. However, the journey is only just beginning. We have a duty to ensure that we deepen the struggle to ensure the Domestication and the compelled implementation of this convention and associated resolutions.
This will require us compelling the National assembly to domesticate C199 & R206, and the government to then make/enact or review policies and legislations, including undertaking institutional reforms, and allocating resources/investing in ensuring the realisation of the objectives, goals, principles and articles of the convention and the resolution.
A second immediate step to take, should involve the demand for a comprehensive national (including at subnational levels) audit of policy, institutional, legislative and practice frameworks dis-enabling and promoting of making the world of work, that is human society, and human civilisation safe and inclusive for women and working women; as a basis for laying the foundation for the necessary transformative reforms required to achieve our goal.
This will also require that we devise innovative ways of communicating the message – including the provisions and goals of C190 and R206; and undertake bold initiatives that allows us to connect with, mobilise, and organise ordinary citizens to achieve our end.
Such a life transforming effort requires building a robust citizens coalition, led by working women and workers organisations, with the autonomous capacity to undertake deliberate and intentional actions towards this end.
The requirement for such a robust citizen coalition stems from both the fact that there are three dimensions to the life of a worker and the character of work – the worker in the home, the worker in the workplace and the worker in the community; as well as from the utmost necessity to transform the way of life, that is culture of human society to reflect social equality, social equity, social justice and fairness in the nature of the relationship between women and men, and the character of the social interactions deriving therefrom.
To conclude, we can draw a direct relationship between processes to empower working women, and enable a safe and inclusive world of work for working women, on the one hand; and the necessity for Transformative Governance. This is because by Transformative Governance it is meant the type of governance that leads to qualitative changes in the conditions of citizens in a manner that uplifts their lives and assures the dignity of the person as a human being.
This is why the Campaign For Transformative Governance (CFTG) has embarked on a process through its Women Forum, as well as the Students And Youth Forum to develop, unveil and utilise the Working Women’s Political Charter of Engagement, as well as the Students And Youth Charter of Political Engagement, to guide its campaign for transformative governance in Nigeria.
This forum, therefore serves both as a platform to present these charters for robust engagement, as well as a platform to receive input towards finalising the Charters as instruments of the campaign for its engagement with the governance processes in the country.
Comrade Gaskia made this presentation at National Program For Working Women, organised by TUC and CFTG, and supported by Solidarity Center, held recently in Abuja.