Parliament taking steps to stamp out harassment
Plans are being drawn up for training to be given to the leadership of Parliament, senior civil servants, liaison personnel, and members of staff of the Parliamentary Office on how to recognise and prevent sexual and gender-related harassment in the establishment.
A series of guidelines will also be drafted on how to proceed in cases of harassment, should they arise.
The training and the guidelines are included in the Parliamentary Office’s equality programme for 2008-2011.
This was discussed at a meeting of the Chancellery Commission on Thursday, but the matter was held over.
The programme is also to contain material on equality in pay structures, and it should be approved at the next meeting in two weeks’ time.
The whole vexed question of sexual harassment in Finland’s unicameral Parliament raised its head in public at the beginning of the year, when the results were released of an equality study carried out in 2007 by the Parliamentary Office.
Of the 100 or so women who replied to the questionnaire, 15 reported that they had been approached or touched in a way they found offensive or unpleasant.
Of the 43 men who responded to the survey, one reported similar findings.
Seven women claimed that they had received unwanted offers of sex, but none of the men had experienced this.
In the case of 22 women, the source of the various kinds of harassment was given as an MP, in 21 cases it was a colleague, and in 5 cases a superior in the organisation.
The Chancellery Commission’s equality programme notes that there has been sexual harassment within the Parliamentary Office to an extent that the problem “can be seen as serious”.
The objective is to stamp the problem out with a zero-tolerance approach to harassment in the workplace.
Other targets of the forward programme include equal representation for men and women on Parliamentary organs, equal pay for equal work, and no discrimination on gender in career-paths.
Previously in HS International Edition:
HS reprimanded by media ethics watchdog over sexual harassment story (20.3.2008)
Study finds extensive sexual harassment in Parliament (25.1.2008)