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Violence, sexism and discrimination

Campaigning for equality for women workers

Violence against women has little to do with the man being aggravated and even less to do with what the victim has done. Instead, its roots lie in the man’s desire to exert control and power over a woman and would occur no matter what she did or did not do.
Zimbabwe amalgamated railwaymen’s union

There are more reports of physical, emotional and sexual violence against women union members than ever before.

There’s also a widespread lack of recognition of the issue and the devastating impact it has. Women who are victims of violence are often afraid of reporting incidents and suffer in silence.

As a result, ITF affiliates are stepping up their campaign activity.

The role of unions in fighting discrimination against women

By campaigning for equality in the workplace, unions have an opportunity to recruit new women workers and find more activists. This work can create change at an industrial and workplace level, as well as in wider society.

Our union collective bargaining agenda should ensure appropriate policies are in place. This includes:

  • family-friendly working hours
  • maternity leave rights
  • equal access to well-paid secure jobs and promotion

What can you do?

Union activists can raise awareness of violence against women by:

  • creating safe opportunities for women to share their experiences
  • speaking out and breaking the silence collectively
  • fighting for policies that confront the issue, eg taking action against perpetrators  
  • working with community organisations who share our goals

More practical ideas and union success stories can be found in the ITF action guide on ending violence against women.

Share your own campaign activity and successes with us by emailing

Uniting women to fight against violence - view further information on a seminar in Swedish or watch the seminar in full, in English