Monica Veloso, CNM CUT, Brazil and IndustriALL Women's committee co-chair, Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL assistant general secretary
The IndustriALL women’s committee, meeting in Mexico City on 28 November, stated its strong commitment to continue increasing women’s participation in trade unions.
The committee emphasized the importance of making more progress towards achieving the 40 per cent target for women’s participation included in IndustriALL’s statutes. Speakers stressed that participation is not just about being present in meetings, it means that women have a genuine voice and take part in decision-making.
Women’s participation in IndustriALL’s sectoral work is still too low and not improving significantly. The women’s committee discussed and endorsed a set of recommendations for new strategies to address the gender imbalance in industries with the lowest representation of women.
The recommendations came from a meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa in October that brought together men and women who play leading roles in IndustriALL’s sectors.
The recommendations include:
- Each network and sector to set its own rules for increasing women’s participation in meetings
- Sectors and networks to devise strategies to analyse the issues facing women in the workplace and in the union and develop campaigns to address them
- Using GFAs to demand MNCs to employ more women in male-dominated areas and challenge the companies on their performance on gender equality
“Each sector and network must set their own strategies for how to increase active participation of women,” said Monica Veloso, co-chair of the women’s committee.
2018 has seen remarkable progress of women participating in IndustriALL projects, with many projects reaching IndustriALL’s goal of 40 per cent representation of women. The union building project in Sub Saharan Africa has reached a rate of 49.3 per cent women participation and in South East Asian project work it is at nearly 44 per cent. In youth activities globally, women’s participation is 40 -50 per cent.
The Latin American region reported to the committee on a meeting in August this year that brought together 25 delegates from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, México, Peru, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay to build a network of women trade union leaders.
Unions in the Mena region face challenges to increase women participation as there is not enough space within existing structures. Women’s committee members heard that there is a continued need to organize more and to fight for the right to organize.
The IndustriALL Philippines women committee has been at the forefront of a successful campaign on increased maternity leave in the country, winning women 105 days of paid leave.
IndustriALL’s campaign calling on affiliated unions to take the Pledge to end violence against women at work was launched one year ago, and to date around 100 unions have adopted the Pledge. Promotion of the pledge continues with plans to develop training modules for unions.
The women’s committee decided to:
- Insist on a quota for women’s participation in the congress working groups (Action Plan and Statutes)
- Recommend that the Executive Committee endorse the recommendations of the Cape Town Meeting and refer them to the sectors for implementation
- Recommend that the Executive Committee endorse IndustriALL’s Policy against Violence and Harassment in meetings and activities
- Reiterate the importance of holding a women’s conference and ask the Executive Committee to determine the best format and timing in the context of budgetary restrictions
“We will continue the work on increasing women’s participation and representation in IndustriALL and our affiliates,” said Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary. “But we must all recognize that this is not an issue for women alone: it is a core trade union issue.”