UN Women and ILO awards South African companies on International Women’s Day

Pretoria – The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women UN Women in collaboration with International Labor Organization celebrated the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day (IWD) in a glitz and glamorous award night to honor South African companies for their commitment to end sexual harassment in the world of work.

UN Women and ILO awards South African companies

“It is UN’s certainty that no decent work for women will be granted if violence in the workplace is not addressed and sexual harassment continues to be a common reality faced by women that access the labour market”.

This year’s IWD was celebrated under the theme: “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”. To encourage South African companies to take leadership in building pathways to decent work for women, UN Women and ILO’s tribute took cognisance of local companies that have committed to fighting sexual harassment in the workplace. In their speeches both UN Women Regional Director, Nomcebo Manzini and ILO Country Director Vic Van Vuuren commended South Africa for being one of the few countries with specific provisions to address sexual harassment in the workplace and highlighted that companies have the obligation to observe and implement the Code of Good Pracytice on Sexual Harassment.

Findings from a case study in South Africa conducted by the Sexual Harassment Education Project (SHEP) in 2003 revealed that 77% of the women and 20 % of the men in the country experience sexual harassment at some point during their working lives. According to the report 67% of all sexual harassment is committed by men against women.

Clicks group South Africa scooped the top UN Women-ILO Award of Excellence for taking leadership in setting up best Practices on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and ensuring decent work platforms for women. The runner up award went to Edcon Group PTY LTD and on the third place was Webber Wentzel Attorneys. Seven other companies were also awarded certificates of recognition for their commitment to ending sexual harassment in the workplace among which was South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, south Africa’s biggest public media entity.

It was a very unique event which was celebrated by more than 100 guests from different Civil Society Organisations, the media, the government and the private corporate sector. Among the judges involved in the selection were icons from the Commission for Gender Equality, the ILO, COSATU and UN Women.

The awards were presented by the Princess of Africa- Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Simphiwe Dana, South African divas that are well known for positively impacting and inspiring women empowerment and gender equality. Yvonne Chaka Chaka is one of the Millennium Development Goals singers and was recently selected as one of the 100 best personalities and most inspiring people globally. The two symbolically coined the celebrations to mark the Centennial of the International Women’s Day 1911-2011 as they entertained guests with their jazz sensations.

The glitz and glitter event was finalized by a “Hands off” procedure were the UN Women Regional Director called upon companies representatives to dip their hands in paint and trace their palms on to a white cloth. A beautiful banner was created with different palm marks signifying the commitment taken by each company and individual to unite with others on building decent work environments for all.

IWD is a global commemoration to acknowledge women’s economic, political and social achievements, marked in its origins as the International Working Women’s Day. On 25 March 2011, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women. This disastrous event drew significant attention to women’s working conditions and labour legislations which have subsequently become the focus of most International Women’s Day events. This year UN Women and ILO during the 100th year celebrations said no to harassment in the workplace and yes to pathways leading to decent work for women.

Press Contact:
Rosemary Mucharonza Muchengeti, UN Women SARO Communications Specialist: rosemary.muchengeti@unwomen.org

For more information contact:
Patricia Rey: patricia.rey@unwomen.org

ILO South Africa
Ms. Boshigo Matlou: Matlou@ilo.org