Briefing 8.1
Social dialogue and working in partnership

1. Introduction

Summary of key points

  • Social dialogue can be an effective approach to preventing workplace sexual harassment and violence.
  • Social dialogue can be carried out between representatives of government, employers and workers (tripartite) or between representatives of employers and workers (bipartite).
  • Working in a wider partnership (bringing together employers, trade unions, local government representatives, NGOs and women’s organizations) at the local level can achieve lasting outcomes in addressing sexual harassment and violence.

Social dialogue is defined by the International Labour Office to “include all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between, or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy. Social dialogue is the ILO’s best mechanism in promoting better living and working conditions as well as social justice. It is an instrument, a tool of good governance in various areas and its relevance is not just related to the process of globalization but in general to any effort to make the economy more performing and more competitive and to make society in general more stable and more equitable.” (ILO. Social Dialogue: Finding a Common Voice. Available at:

Examples of tripartite and bipartite social dialogue initiatives are included in the case studies in this module, with the aim of showing the importance of social dialogue in raising awareness and finding practical solutions that can make a difference in the workplace.

In addition to social dialogue, broader partnerships can play an important role in bringing together a range of organizations to challenge gender-based violence. NGOs, in particular, play an important role in working with women at grass-roots levels to build women’s empowerment and document violations of rights. Women’s organizations, trade unions and business associations can form effective partnerships to work together to highlight issues about violence against women in the workplace.