Although violence and harassment at work are not new issues in the workplace, there are a range of dynamics that have led to increasing attention being given to violence and harassment as both a gender equality issue and an occupational safety and health issue, particularly in relation to rising levels of psychosocial forms of violence at work.
The way violence and harassment is reported across EU does not always give visibility to gender-based forms of violence and harassment, where the issue is often presented in gender-neutral language.
This is relevant, as psychosocial risks have become a growing problem and persistent gender inequalities have been exacerbated by increasing levels of pressure, stress and insecurity at work, and a labour market across Europe increasingly typified by casualization and precarious working conditions.
Psychosocial forms of violence have increased as new risks have emerged from the economic crisis, such as changing patterns of work and growing work pressures, and casual and precarious forms of employment, which disproportionately affect women workers.
Against this backdrop, the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration undertook an initiative to invite other pertinent organisations to develop a proposal that will seek to examine emerging and thought-provoking areas of interest regarding sexual harassment, e.g. changing gender roles, introducing effective and confidential complaint mechanisms for victims, creating harmless organizational cultures, assessing economic and social impact and harm caused by sexual harassment, identify and address critical aspects of sexual harassment that are notable by their absence
The partnership brings together organizations with considerable experience and knowledge in formulating policy and putting into practices, tools and methodologies to prevent sexual harassment and deal with sexual harassment incidents at the work place. The composition of the partnership is based on the following criteria: a) partners from EU regions that have advanced experience with reputable practices on the issue; b) partner organizations representing EU regions with less developed practices; c) reputable Universities with direct research work and practice in the field of prevention and combating sexual harassment and gender-based violence, and d) a balanced partnership as it regards to geographical dimension e.g. the partnership involves 2 partners from northern EU countries (Denmark and Belgium) a south-eastern EU country (Bulgaria) and three Mediterranean countries (Cyprus, Spain and Greece). It is also important to mention that Bulgaria and Cyprus are new EU countries joining the Union in 2007 and 2004 respectively. The diversity within the partnership facilitates the exchange of best practice and learning from others which is an important added-value.
As such, the proposed project aims to develop effective intervention strategies, training methodologies, curricula and tools to build self-awareness regarding prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace, but also transfer necessary skills to address reporting and handling sexual harassment issues and complaints.