9 September, 2015Some 300 women trade unionists from over 60 countries are gathering in Vienna, Austria for IndustriALL Global Union’s first-ever Women World Conference.
The inaugural event, hosted by Austrian trade union PRO-GE, takes place from 14 to 16 September in the capital.
Austria’s President, Dr. Heinz Fischer, will address the opening ceremony, together with the minister for health, Sabine Oberhauser, the minister for labour, Rudolf Hundstorfer and the secretary of state, Sonja Stessl.
IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers in the metal, chemical, energy, mining, textile and related industries, is bringing together women trade unionists from across five continents to address some of the issues most affecting women in the workplace.
“Vienna has opened its arms to our trade union colleagues and we are delighted to welcome so many women to Austria for IndustriALL’s first World Women Conference. It promises to be a lively and informative conference from which we will emerge stronger and better equipped to improve the lives of women through the trade union movement,” said IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary Monika Kemperle.
A key theme of the conference will be unions’ role in preventing violence against women, with a new campaign launched on the occasion. Gender-based violence and discrimination whether at work or not, limits women’s potential at work and is therefore a trade union issue.
Women panelists from countries as diverse as Australia, Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, the Ukraine and South Africa, will be sharing their experiences and expertise in improving health and safety, increasing maternity protection, preventing HIV/AIDS, building membership, fighting precarious work, ending gender discrimination, and achieving a work/life balance, among other topics.
An Equality Charter advocating women’s rights will be proposed for adoption at the Conference. Trade unions, especially in male-dominated sectors, have not always been inclusive of women or taken their concerns seriously.
Participants will also be examining IndustriALL’s own leadership structures with a motion to increase women’s representation from 30 to 40 per cent.
The event is due to be streamed live on www.industriall-union.org and can be followed on twitter at @IndustriALL_GU and #WWCVienna.