Stakeholders have underlined the need to lobby the government and lawmakers to ratify Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No 190).

ILO Convention 190 is a comprehensive UN instrument that covers all the aspects of violence and harassment against workers, particularly women, and makes the employer responsible for ensuring safe working environment.

Speaking at a consultation meeting here today on the process of ILO Convention 190 ratification, Executive Director of Forum for Women, Law and Development Sabin Shrestha said the line agencies needed to take serious initiative to ratify the ILO Convention 190 as there were multiple steps that ought to be taken before the actual ratification of the convention.

So far, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security has only begun informal discussion on the ratification issue. "At least we expect that the line ministry to start formal discussion regarding the ILO Convention 190 ratification now," Shrestha said. Once the line ministry takes steps to ratify the convention, it has to seek consent from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary affairs before getting the proposal endorsed by the Cabinet.

"Even after a country's Parliament ratifies the convention, it comes into force only after a year from the date the ratification document is submitted at ILO Office in Geneva,"

Shrestha said. Responding to a query, Shrestha said, "Although the government has ratified very few ILO conventions till date, there is no reason for the government to delay the ratification of ILO Convention 190 mainly because it makes employers responsible to ensure safe working environment and there is no need for the government to worry about liability issues.

ILO Convention 190 signed two years ago is a comprehensive convention that encompasses both formal and informal sectors.

Nepal has enacted anti-sexual harassment law at the workplace. However, this law is not adequate. Ratification of ILO Convention 190 will fill a lacunae in Nepal's relevant laws.

ILO Convention 190 not only encompasses formal and informal workplaces, but also the journey from and to workplaces.

ILO National Project Coordinator Kripa Basnyat said the stakeholders in Nepal should make efforts to ratify the ILO Convention 190 as soon as possible. She said Pakistan had already initiated the process in the Parliament to ratify the convention.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 21, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.