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Women across the world fear violence and harassment at work


In some countries as many as 75 per cent of female workers are concerned about violence and harassment in the workplace, with women in Malawi and Swaziland expressing the greatest levels of worry (75 per cent and 72 per cent respectively). Even in high-income economies where strong regulation of workplace safety and women’s safety issues is typical, significant concerns about violence and harassment in the workplace were recorded in many countries. Figures ranged from just 3 per cent of female workers in Singapore to 42 per cent of Finnish female workers.

Globally, the World Risk Poll finds that nearly 11 per cent of female workers have experienced workplace violence and harassment, similar levels to men (12 per cent). However, the poll finds a significant gender gap in some countries with 39 per cent of female workers in Australia experiencing this issue compared to 24 per cent of men. Australia ranks sixth in the world for women experiencing violence and harassment in the workplace.


Top 3 countries for women worrying about and experiencing violence and harassment at work

Women across the world who cited violence and harassment as a source of risk to their personal safety while working, and those who have experienced, or know someone who experienced, this issue at work in the two years prior to polling. (% country female workers)


Fourteen per cent of female workers globally have been seriously injured at work; women generally experience fewer workplace injuries than men

Fourteen per cent of female workers globally have been seriously injured at work. This rises to 23 per cent where women are working in more dangerous areas such as agriculture and fishing. In East Africa 28 per cent of female workers report serious injury at work, and in South Asia this figure is 27 per cent – reflecting the high proportion of women working in the regions’ large agricultural sectors, which suffer more workplace safety issues.

Crime and violence is a particular concern for women globally

In most regions of the world more women than men named crime and violence amongst their greatest sources of risk when asked about their top of the mind concerns. The biggest gender gap is again seen in Australia and New Zealand where 34 per cent of women name crime and violence as a risk, 18 percentage points above their male counterparts. Women are most concerned about crime and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Southern Africa, where 61 per cent cited it as a risk.


Levels of education affect the ability to take action

Being able to quantify risks with basic statistics is essential to assessing our situations regarding safety and risk, comparing them to others and measuring progress. The World Risk Poll shows that globally women have lower levels of basic arithmetic than men, almost certainly due to lower levels of education provision. This puts women at a disadvantage when presented with information about risk and hampers their ability to use that information to take action. As a result of this, those wanting to make people more aware of the risks they face and to empower them to take action to reduce risks, need to consider how accessible their communications are to the people most affected.

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