International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Education trade unions unite to highlight collective power


The 25th of November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year, the global theme is highlighting the role of activism in uniting communities to end violence against women and girls. In light of this theme, UN Women have launched a traditional 16-day campaign that ultimately aims to mobilise all of society to become activists by working in solidarity with different groups, including trade unions.

With intersecting global crisis, it is important to recognise that trade unions have a significant role to play in igniting collective action to resist the degradation, and assist in the realisation, of women’s rights globally. In education, work must continue to be done to combat gender-based violence and harassment, including in the workplace following  ILO Convention 190. It was only earlier this November that it was revealed that three-quarters of staff members within European universities suffered from a form of gender-based violence at work. ETUCE European Director, Susan Flocken, has emphasised the significance of education trade unions working collectively to overcome gender-based violence, clarifying that “a particular role is played by education trade unions in mobilising to address the growing issues of gender-based violence and cyber-bullying. ETUCE actively and continuously supports its member organisations in the prevention and combatting of gender-based violence and harassment in the education sector.”

The ability of activism and collective power to work to make sure that spaces are safe for women and girls in all of their diversity is also highlighted by Education International (EI) president Susan Hopgood in a video released to mark the International Day. The European Trade Union Committee (ETUC) are further choosing to focus on an often overlooked aspect of violence against women and girls, emphasising the impact of cyberviolence on women in the workplace on the Day.

ETUCE member organisations have also planned various activities to contribute to the fight to eliminate violence against women and girls. The Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of the Republic of Tajikistan are holding a dedicated roundtable, the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine are publishing a special article, the National Education Union (UK) are spotlighting their domestic abuse and the workplace toolkit, the DAÜ-SEN (Cyprus) are engaging in a parade with songs and poetry readings, the NASUWT (UK) are releasing a statement and clarifying activities, the SLFP-VSOA  (Belgium) are writing a detailed piece with imagery, and the SNUipp-FSU (France) have designed specific visuals.

In order to create safe learning and working environments for students, teachers, academics, and other education personnel, ETUCE and its member organisations, in the ETUCE Action Plan on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, have committed to combatting of gender-based violence and harassment in the education sector through, amongst other things:

There are also numerous online activities that can be engaged with throughout the course of the 16-days of activism. To work in solidarity to end violence against women and girls, the European Commission have planned a conference looking to outline the defining role of civil society in overcoming violence against women. Additionally, the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union has also organised a conference on ending gender-based violence in academia to move towards gender-equal, safe, and inclusive research and higher education.