Women’s Health in the Workplace

A woman weaves a blanket.

As part of its Women’s Health in the Workplace programme, UNFPA  engages with businesses around the world to support female employees in achieving gender equality inside and outside of work.

According to Ethical Trading Initiative, approximately 190 million women work in global supply chains concentrated in countries with high unmet needs for women’s health services. Often the needs of these women workers, from health care to protection from harassment and violence to fair wages, are neglected.
Businesses can be the agents of change to ensure that more women have the means to realize their sexual and reproductive rights by providing opportunities to overcome some of the barriers that workers face in accessing these services. Such barriers can include lack of information, financial constraints and working hours.

UNFPA works with businesses to address the specific challenges and needs of their female  workforce in different regions. In some Eastern European countries, UNFPA is partnering with the private sector and governments to combat gender-based violence and to champion gender-responsive family policies. In Asia and the Pacific, UNFPA works with companies and factories to provide on-site family planning counselling and services.

Business against domestic violence, UNFPA Turkey

“I’ve had to take large amounts of sick leave and when that ran out, annual leave, to deal with the effects of an abusive partner. The fear of losing my job made dealing with the emotional and legal issues more stressful than it already was. Losing all my sick leave and much of my annual leave adds to the stress. I was trying to keep this secret of the abusive relationship away from my work life. I was ashamed and what could the company do for it anyway? ” – Anonymous email to an HR Director

Gender-based violence, which reflects and reinforces inequalities between women and men, hasIts devastating consequences that not only affect women but society as a whole. Research indicates high prevalence (32 per cent) of sexual and physical violence among white-collar working women and the absence of response mechanisms within the private sector in Turkey. This means that women, regardless of their background and seniority in their work life, are persistently subjected to physical, psychological and economic violence. This owes much to cultural norms, fear of losing one's job, shame and stigma but also lack of support mechanisms to talk about violence and seek help.

UNFPA promotes gender equality and combats gender-based violence wherever it occurs, including places of employment. Based on results of UNFPA-sponsored research, UNFPA Turkey supported the Sabancı University Corporate Governance Forum of Turkey to develop a guidebook for private-sector companies interested in supporting survivors of gender-based violence. Several companies received training to develop company policies to combat domestic violence; one of the first to participate was Garanti Bank, which established a hotline for its employees.

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