Fighting to protect women at work | Letters

Signatories including Helen Pankhurst, Sadiq Khan and Harriet Harman say the International Labour Conference in Geneva presents an opportunity to end violence and harassment against women, and call on the UK government to use its influence wisely

Over the last few years, we have come together around #March4Women to demand action to end violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. This week, world leaders have a crucial chance to answer this call, and turn the wave of global outrage following #MeToo into systemic change for women in the workplace. We call on the UK government not to waste this opportunity to champion a strong global law that protects all women.

Governments, employers and workers are meeting in Geneva for the International Labour Conference to negotiate a new global convention to end violence and harassment in the world of work. We urge them to remember the 235 million women around the world who work without any legal protection because one in three countries have no laws against sexual harassment at work. It is the poorest women who are the most vulnerable – domestic workers, factory workers, those women living hand-to-mouth who cannot afford to risk their jobs by standing up for themselves and for each other. An international law is urgently needed.

The UK government must be bold, and use its influence to ensure the convention is not watered down or negotiations derailed. Just as it did in the fight to end modern slavery, it needs to be at the forefront of those calling for the most robust legislation possible. We must end this conference with a strong and inclusive convention that provides protection for every woman, everywhere, from the Hollywood studios to the factory floors of Cambodia and serviced households of Latin America. Because abuse isn’t in anyone’s job description.
David Arnold Composer
Claire Barnett Interim executive director, UN Women UK
Melissa Benn Writer and campaigner
Christina Blacklaws President, The Law Society
Dawn Butler Shadow women and equalities secretary
Melanie C Musician
Bridget Christie Comedian
Simon Neil, James Johnston and Ben Johnston Biffy Clyro musicians
Anne-Marie Duff Actor
Paloma Faith Musician
Sarah Gavron Director, Suffragette
Shaista Gohir Interim executive director, Muslim Women’s Network UK
Harriet Harman Mother of the House
Caroline Haworth CEO, Womankind Worldwide
Helen Hayes MP
Konnie Huq Presenter
Bianca Jagger Founder and CEO, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
Sioned Jones CEO, The Circle
Jude Kelly Founder, Women of the World
Sadiq Khan Mayor of London
Laurie Lee CEO, Care International UK
Annie Lennox Founder of The Circle
Caroline Lucas MP
Imelda May Musician
Gordon McKay President, Unison
Girish Menon CEO, ActionAid UK
Maria Miller MP, chair of the women and equalities committee
Nicky Morgan MP
Shola Mos-Shogbamimu Campaigner, Women’s March London
Alison Owen Producer, Suffragette
Helen Pankhurst Gender equality adviser, Care International
Zelda Perkins Campaigner, former PA to Harvey Weinstein
Jess Phillips MP
Gay-Yee Westerhoff, Eos Counsell, Tania Davis, Elspeth Hanson and Haylie Ecker, Bond Quartet musicians
Michael Sheen Actor
Sam Smethers CEO, Fawcett Society
Lisa Smosarski Editor, Stylist Magazine
Anthea Sully CEO, White Ribbon UK
Jo Swinson Deputy leader, Liberal Democrats
Sandi Toksvig Co-founder, Women’s Equality Party
Sue Vincent Actor
Ruby Wax Writer and comedian

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