The IndustriALL Women’s Committee met on 3 December 2013 in Geneva and worked through a long agenda. One of the main points was a review of women’s participation at sectoral meetings. The women looked at the figures and found that there was considerable room for improvement.
The committee arrived at the conclusion that more drastic measures need to be taken in order to redress the situation of poor women attendance in IndustriALL meetings. This conclusion was echoed by the General Secretary, Jyrki Raina, as well as the Executive Committee which met the following two days.
The meeting took place against the backdrop of the 16 days to combat violence against women and children. This fight should be conducted 365 days a year. In the mining sector women who work underground are particularly vulnerable. “We must develop good practices to take action against violence. Moreover we must organize women around their priorities, one of which is violence,” said Carol Bruce, IndustriALL Director for Women Workers and Non-Manual Workers.
Jyrki Raina reported on trends within IndustriALL, many of which affect women, in particular workers in Bangladesh. Women’s structures were successfully put into place in the regions in 2013. The General Secretary read out the political agreement that was reached at the Founding Congress in 2012, where it is a question of improving women’s representation at all levels for the next Congress.
One of the stumbling blocks in the way of women’s representation is the issue of the sector chairs. In the meantime it has been agreed that each sector conference must elect two co-chairs of the sector, one woman and one man. This will be a small step toward improving women’s representation at sectoral meetings. IndustriALL Head office must also control registrations and reject delegations that do not have women present. Also gender balance will be taken into account when granting financial support. One possibility is to apply the language in the statutes, which applies to Congress, to other meetings, a 30 percent quota should be applicable to all, even to developed countries.
Statistics on women’s representation at sector meetings, conferences and networks were presented. The women deplored this report. At many meetings in 2013 one woman was present, and at many more women’s presence was less than 10 percent. The women called for an audit to be done of the whole organization to find out where women leaders are present at all levels. A working group will also be called to examine the question of women’s representation. The ITUC will be invited to make a presentation at the next meeting about how their regulations are working on gender parity.
For 2014 regional conferences will be held in the different IndustriALL regions. The theme of the conferences is “Women Workers: Safe Work with Dignity”. Other suggestion for the theme should be sent by 15 February 2014. The proposal for taking action in support of women is to offer solidarity to women in Egypt. More information will be provided about the women in Egypt and their struggles by 1 February 2014 so that messages can be sent for 8 March.
The women were invited to Vienna, Austria for the women’s world conference in 2015. The suitable date will be explored, either May or October. The proposed motto for the conference is “Transforming Structures through Women’s Leadership”. Other suggestions should also be submitted by 1 March 2014.
Reports were presented on the ongoing work in connection with living wage, precarious work, maternity protection and violence. In light of the lengthy discussions that took place at the meeting, it was questioned whether a half-day was sufficient to do justice to the women’s concerns.
With all of this work the goal to have more women present at Congress and in all other IndustriALL activities has moved closer to being met.