The French National Workshop took place on 8th of October 2015 in Paris. 43 people attended it: representatives of the organisations (companies, public bodies, NGOs…) that took part in the CARVE study “Companies’ Involvement in Fighting Violence Against Women”, as well as other organisations that showed interest for this issue.
The workshop was designed to share the main results of the French national study conducted in the framework of the CARVE project among organisations involved in gender based violence issues as well to foster a discussion around this issue in France. A large space was given to the presentation of good practices, to inspire and broadcast initiatives from companies in favour of the detection of gender violence cases. Finally, this workshop gave the chance to all stakeholders to debate specific recommendations for companies to tackle this issue, so as to better and concretely include them.
This restitution of the study led to other interventions that enriched the debate around the involvement of companies in the elimination of gender-based violence happening outside the workplace. Mrs Laure Neliaz, from the French Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights, mentioned the Inter-Ministerial Plans on the fight against gender violence. They led to a protocol signed with the company PSA, to the creation of a national phone number dedicated to supporting women who are in a situation of male-partner violence (3919), and to raise the question of training courses for professionals.
Mrs Jennifer Sassard-Laïfa from PSA Company presented various actions that have been implemented by this company pioneer in addressig gender violence issues. In 2011, a training session was set up and attracted 150 managers that showed real interest for this issue. In 2013, the company organized a visit of a shelter for women suffering from partner violence, in the French city of Vesoul. PSA put also a strong emphasis on communicating about gender violence at the workplace: posters, placemats at the cafeteria and questionnaires are displayed so as to inform all workers about the nature of gender violence and the available resources for victims to seek for support.
Mrs Bérénice Sylvain, from the French NGO Elle’s imagine’nt, reminded that companies are important actors in this fight, since, for instance, women who suffer from violence at home are more likely to be victims of harassment in the workplace.
Concluding the debate, Séverine Lemière, President of the NGO FIT Une femme un toit, reminded that such violence exists in all parts of the society. Male violence against women is a political issue: it reflects the functioning of our society. It is the most serious result of male domination over women and of gender inequalities. She noted that in this regard, the study presented by FACE is interesting because it brings together two topics that are usually treated separately: equality between men and women, and male violence against women. There should be more statistics available about gender violence. NGOs are often the only organizations warning about the consequences of gender violence. Company can thus happen to accentuate the difficulties that victims go through. Thus, it is important to make it become a place of protection for women by setting up various measures, such as taking into account work-life balance, facilitating the possibility to get paid leaves, have absences excused and get a salary advance more easily for women who suffer from partner violence. Moreover, companies must bear in mind that they have a safety obligation towards their employees. Other countries are a great source of inspiration to design such measures!