The Psychological and Social Counseling Center for Women, in partnership with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, launched complaint units related to violence and harassment in the workplace under the title "To Whom Should I Complain?" during a conference held in Ramallah, with the participation of the Ministry of Women and the International Labor Organization.
The campaign comes as part of a project to combat gender-based violence against women in the workplace, implemented by the Women's Psychological and Social Counseling Center in partnership with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and funded by the African Women's Development Fund.
Khawla Al-Azraq, director of the Women's Psychological and Social Counseling Center, said that the "To Whom Should I Complain?" campaign responds to an urgent need among women, especially in the private sector, who suffer greatly from violations and non-compliance by employers, whether in terms of the minimum wage or decent working conditions. This is reflected in the low participation rate of women in the labor market, which is considered the lowest in the region in Palestine. As a result, women become more vulnerable to gender-based violence due to the growing poverty resulting from the lack of decent job opportunities.
The campaign aims to monitor the violations that women are exposed to in the labor market, and to take measures to ensure a decent work environment for women through cooperation with governmental and international institutions related to defending women's rights.
Al-Azraq confirmed that the aim of launching this unit is to create a refuge for working women to turn to in case of any harassment or abuse, and thus to work together to achieve a decent work environment free of harassment in accordance with the international agreements that the Palestinian Authority has committed to.
Al-Azraq, also confirmed that the center has an integrated media plan that will be launched in coordination with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. The plan includes various tools that will be used to raise awareness among working women to file complaints with the centers spread throughout the governorates. There will also be explanatory brochures about the "Whom to Complain to?" campaign that will be distributed to women in various governorates.
Al-Azraq expects that this campaign will succeed with the efforts and cooperation of all those involved in it. It is a fundamental part of the center's strategic goals, which began with one step and will continue to evolve because it is an important tool for ending violence against women in the workplace.
The Secretary-General of the Palestinian General Federation of Labor Unions, Shaher Saad, said in an interview with the Palestinian News Network (PNN) that the launch of the complaint units for women aims to follow up on their cases, especially with regard to sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical.
He added that the Gender Department at the Labor Union, in cooperation with partners, especially the Women's Counseling and Social Guidance Center, is seeking to combat these phenomena, which are foreign to our society and culture.
Saad emphasized that this campaign aims to monitor all these violations and follow them up with the female workers in order to help them understand how to file and follow up on complaints, and how to follow up with institutions. He also pointed out that there is a toll-free number for complaints, with the aim of giving working women the opportunity to access their rights.
For her part, Aisha Hammouda, head of the Gender Department at the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, said that the "Whom to Complain to?" campaign is the first step in establishing a "real partnership," with everyone assuming their responsibility, from the government and international organizations to the counseling center and the labor movement, to create a suitable work environment.
Hammouda confirmed that the complaint units will not only receive complaints but will also identify the type of complaints in the workplace, which witness every day the emergence of new types of violence against women. Sensitive teams have been trained in gender and social violence at work to detect information that women find difficult to talk about. She added that there will be monthly reports announcing the nature and type of these violations, in order to discuss the mechanisms of treatment with all concerned and responsible parties, leading to the creation of a safe environment free of violence.
The attendees from various civil and private institutions pointed out the importance of this unit for filing complaints, indicating that this issue is crucial to combat and eliminate harassment and persecution in their workplaces. They expect these units to be successful, especially since they rely on confidentiality and security for anyone who contacts or is contacted by these units.
Lawyer Nasreen Ishtayeh said that these units will help many women who face harassment or harassment practices in the workplace to file complaints professionally and confidentially, ensuring the treatment and combating of this phenomenon and enabling women to access their rights.