The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

Our Turn: Taking back the workplace to end sexual harassment and abuse

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Activists gathered in Alexandria, VA for the inaugural assembly of the Sexual Harassment Action Network pledged their support to the Our Turn declaration (Photo: courtesy of NCOSH)

Inspired by #metoo, a new campaign launches to make sure all workers are protected from harassment and violence at work.

The #MeToo movement and the extraordinary take-down of larger-than-life men, such as Harvey Weinstein, captured the world’s attention. Yet, as all too many workers know, sexual harassment does not just occur in the realm of Hollywood.  Day in and day out, hard-working hotel workers, waiters, farmworkers, and domestic workers endure—and RESIST—sexual harassment in their workplaces.

The challenge is: when the victims are not celebrities and the perpetrators not powerful men whose downfall is news-worthy, the fight of these workers and activists largely goes unnoticed.

Today, activists on the frontlines, who have been fighting tirelessly against the systemic issues that create unsafe work environments, are launching a collective effort to change that through Our Turn: Sexual Harassment Action NetworkThis worker-led cross-sectoral campaign against sexual harassment unites harassed and at-risk workers with labor, community, and academic allies to take back the workplace.  Their goal: winning meaningful changes in the workplace and in public policy.

Oxfam is proud to be a partner.

To launch this campaign, #Our Turn is today issuing a declaration of Commitment to Unity and Action. This commitment is the beginning of a new page in the worker movement.  It aims to highlight the occupational safety hazards that sexual harassment and sexual violence create in the workplace. Gender-based harassment needs to be recognized as such, and both employers and lawmakers alike must provide more robust worker protections against such behaviors.  Critically, this declaration centers around marginalized and often-overlooked victims, pledging to “unite workers across all industries, particularly women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and all those in low-paying jobs who have historically been targeted, and then silenced, in the face of this and other abuses.”

The #OurTurn declaration was created through a collaborative process that took place at an assembly of the Sexual Harassment Action Network, convened by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH), with participation of many workers’ centers, labor unions, and national advocacy groups such as A Better Balance, National Women’s Law Center, Futures Without Violence, and others.  The leadership and experiences of workers in the restaurant, hotel, janitorial, and other low-wage industries including farmworkers and poultry processing workers have contributed to the language in this declaration and will lead the movement to take back their workplaces.

Sexual harassment and violence in the workplace is not only a gender rights issue, but also an economic issue that hurts the livelihoods of many workers and the abilities for their families to advance and to feel empowered as contributors to our economy.   Oxfam is committed to amplifying the voices of these leaders and working to create harassment-free workplaces.  It’s not just movie stars who deserve as much.

To learn more about the Our Turn campaign please follow #OurTurnAtWork on social media.

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