What does domestic violence have to do with work? Business and prevention

One of the reasons, and one of the most powerful, why women remain in a relationship of violence or they return to it has to do with the world of work. There are few employment opportunities, mainly for mothers, jobs are precarious or do not allow them to be absent to file a complaint or take shelter when their life is in danger, says Wendy Figueroa, general director of the National Shelter Network (RNR).

This November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Mexico reaches that date with 736 recognized femicides by the authorities from January to September 2021, according to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP). In that period, nearly 81,000 women have reported some type of assault to 911.

The Mexican State and its institutions, but also the companies“They are responsible for guaranteeing women access to their citizenship,” Wendy Figueroa points out in an interview, which means: political, social, economic, educational and cultural participation, among other aspects of public and private life.

Joining a job not only allows them to exercise their citizenship, but “is interconnected with economic autonomy, which is fundamental. But if we want to talk about democracy and equality, we must guarantee its access to decent work, because inequality in the labor market has repercussions on their lives and on society as a whole ”.

Last September, according to the National Occupation and Employment Survey (ENOE), of the more than 57.5 million economically active people, the women accounted for 39% and men, 61 percent. 30% of female workers earn less than one minimum wage and only 1.7% receive more than five. In contrast, for men it is 20% and 2.7%, respectively.

According to the latest National Survey on the Dynamics of Household Relationships (Endireh), more than 4.2 million women They said that their partners get upset because they study or work. The spouses of another 4.8 million are angry because they consider that they dedicate too much time to their work and 2.2 million, because they earn more money. More than 4 million women are sued for the clothes they wear and almost 3 million because “they do not comply as a mother or wife.”

Public policy proposals

In 2019, Wendy Figueroa presented to the Congress of Mexico City an initiative “of leave of absence from work with economic support for women in a situation of gender violence”. In that year the activist was part of the Third Parliament of Women of CDMX. This space was created to receive proposals on the rights of women, girls and adolescents.

In June of that same year, in Geneva, the member countries of the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted Convention 190 on the elimination of violence and harassment. At the tripartite meeting – governments, unions and companies – the Mexican employers decided to abstain. He did not vote against, but neither did he vote in favor.

In addition to the recognition of different types and forms of workplace violence, the agreement establishes that the domestic violence it has effects on work. Recommendation 206, which accompanies the pact, indicates that to mitigate the impact, countries could include:

  • Licensing for victims of domestic violence
  • Flexible working modalities
  • Temporary protection against dismissal
  • Inclusion of domestic violence in the assessment of risks in the workplace
  • Raising awareness of the effects of domestic violence among staff and employers

Wendy Figueroa’s initiative was taken as one more proposal, and the Mexican government has not sent the Convention 190 to the Senate for ratification. “It is very important that the necessary reforms be made because violence against women has high costs for companies and the country’s economy, not only for their lives,” says the activist.

In 2020, the economic impact of violence was 4.7 trillion pesos, according to the Mexico Peace Index 2021. “This is equivalent to 22.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 36,893 pesos per person,” says the report of the Institute for the Economy and Peace (IEP). Most of the murders of men “are linked to organized crime dynamics.” But “it is more likely that the deaths of women are associated with intimate partner violence.”

But why don’t they leave those relationships?

The National Network of Refuges has implemented a system of transition houses “for the deficiencies of the Mexican State.” Wendy Figueroa defines them as “a bridge to autonomy”. For six months, the survivors of gender violence they can live there, while they join a job or create a self-management project.

Most women who receive they are mothers and, on average, they have two sons or daughters, he details. In these houses there are nurseries and small psycho-pedagogical centers. “They are like a hostel, while they are capitalized they do not pay rent or other services.”

The RNR does not have a public budget, therefore, the refugee women they must buy their food and personal belongings, “the rest is covered”. The lack of resources has forced them to close the houses on several occasions, but in the last year and three months they managed to sustain them.

“We have seen an impressive change, before those 15 months, 30% of the women who finished the refugee process returned to the violent relationship from which they fled. For this month only 11% of those who graduated have done so “, he details.

Without their own income, “many women cannot get out of situations of violence and with the covid-19 pandemic it has been worse.” In March 2020, more than 22.9 million women they had a job or were able to look for one. By July only 19.5 million were economically active.

While there has been a recovery, the numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels, in September 2021 more than 22.4 million women they were part of the economically active population (EAP), according to the ENOE.

“Many women do not want to enter the shelter, although they know that their life is in danger,” laments the rights defender. Leaving your home sometimes also means leaving your job or having to take a few days off and lose it. Without work, without a home, without social security and, most of the time, without protection measures, they continue in the situation of violence.

“Access to comprehensive justice implies access to decent housing, decent employment and equal pay for men and women.”

What can companies do?

In addition to licensing and not firing, there are many other measures that companies can take, says Wendy Figueroa. For example, if they have plants or offices in other entities, they can move to the women victims of violence “So that they can rebuild their lives in other spaces, guaranteeing the continuity of their employment”.

Many companies are already promoting the empowerment of women, “But they see it as a conjuncture” or only in regards to the interior of their organization. “We need them to promote it in all areas of their employees’ lives. We cannot see what happens in their homes as separate, guaranteeing their human rights will help corporate sustainability ”.

Equal opportunities for advancement and remuneration is essential for them to get out of a life of violence, he says. “The new trends in human resource management and business organization must introduce continuous training, motivation, a good work environment and the reconciliation of family, work and personal life as a fundamental element.”

Other actions he proposes are:

  • Zero tolerance for sexual and workplace harassment
  • Measures for the prevention, investigation and punishment of sexual and occupational harassment
  • Nurseries and nurseries in the workplace
  • Maternal and parental leave extension
  • Create specialized gender areas for the guidance and care of women
  • Eliminate sexist biases in recruitment
  • Training to prevent domestic violence for men and women within the working day

“All this also improves productivity, attracts and maintains qualified personnel,” says the specialist.


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