IndustriALL project in Sub-Saharan Africa boosts women’s representation

08.03.2017

An IndustriALL Global Union project in ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased women’s participation in trade unions and created gender policies in unions at the national level, often for the first time. 

IndustriALL’s union building programme in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe is aimed at developing democratic and transparent trade unions and organizing new members. The project, which was funded by trade union solidarity organizations, Union to Union and FNV Mondiaal, promotes greater participation by women in decision-making and leadership positions.

Women made up an average of 38 per cent of all union building activities, which is above the 25 per cent target that had been set for the region.

In 2016, the Zimbabwe Chemical & Plastics Workers Union and the Nation Union of Clothing Industry (Zimbabwe), amended their constitutions to include women structures, and appointed women to their national executive committees for the first time.

In addition, the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union appointed a female president and increased women on its national executive committee by 8 per cent. It also achieved 30 per cent women’s representation target in recruitment, 50 per cent women in the collective bargaining team, 67 per cent on the finance committee and 50 per cent women on the union’s steering committee.

In Uganda, the Chemicals Petroleum and Allied Workers Union established national women’s structures, while the Textile Garments Leather and Allied Workers Union increased women negotiators from three to six.

Elsewhere, IndustriALL Women's Committees were formed in Ghana and Cameroon in 2016, and IndustriALL affiliates developed organizing drives for increasing women members in Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

“The challenges for trade unions in Africa are significant but greater participation by women, particularly in leadership positions, will strengthen unions and lead to a better future for men and women,” said Tendai Makanza, Project Coordinator, IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa.