(Paris, July 23) “The world of work should not be a source of anxiety or insecurity for women. “France now intends to be a model in the implementation of [the] Convention, by ratifying it as soon as possible.
The French Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, made this promise during the Generation Equality Forum in Paris on July 2. The National Assembly today adopted the bill ratifying the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment (C190), which sets global standards for preventing and responding to violence and harassment at work .
This is a positive step, but France must therefore not be satisfied with ratifying the treaty. To put an end to sexual harassment at work, it now needs to effectively implement the Convention. France should adopt reforms in line with the Convention and its accompanying recommendation, guided by emerging best practices from other countries.
While Minister Borne praised the force of French law in combating the “scourge” of harassment and gender-based violence, significant gaps remain. During the debate on ratification, many parliamentarians expressed the importance of strengthening French law. Feminist groups, unions and other civil society groups have identified specific areas for reform and proposed concrete solutions.
French policymakers should introduce sanctions for the 80% of reported employers who do not have a violence protection plan. They should make training compulsory for managers and make workers aware of their rights. They should also oblige French companies to take measures to prevent and respond to risks throughout their supply chains, develop specific strategies to protect those most at risk and adopt protections in the workplace, such as than 10 days of paid leave, so that victims of domestic violence seek help and safety without fear of losing their job.
The fight against gender-based violence is a priority declared for President Emmanuel Macron. With Minister Borne and parliamentarians, he should act on the reforms that feminists and union leaders are asking for.
France is leading by example by striving to be one of the first to ratify the Convention on Violence and Harassment. But to truly deserve the right to be at the forefront of the fight against sexual harassment at work, it must now adopt and implement national reforms.