House Democrats asked the Obama administration yesterday to support the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) efforts to combat global gender-based violence in the workplace.

Ahead of the ILO’s 320th Session of the Governing Board, Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 34 other leading Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez seeking their support for an ILO Convention on gender-based violence in the workplace, as well as a standard-setting discussion about violence against all people in the workplace.

“Gender-based violence is among the most rampant human rights violations in the world–and it most acutely affects women,” said Rep. Miller, the senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee. “Worldwide, working women are ruthlessly exploited. They face daily sexual harassment, intimidation, and verbal and physical abuse. This is unacceptable. We must establish international norms that address violence against women at work, and hold companies and industries accountable for protecting the most fundamental labor human rights of their workers, up and down they supply chain.”

Rep. Miller also called on the apparel industry to improve working conditions in February. It has garnered international attention in recent years for its exploitation of workers - roughly 88 percent of whom are women – through low wages, dangerous workplace conditions, and other forms of violence. 1,100 garment workers died and 2,500 were injured in the horrific Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh last April.

Media Resources: Committee on Education and the Workforce 3/12/14; Ms. magazine Summer 2013; Feminist Newswire 5/9/13, 2/12/14

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