A project to achieve gender equality and improved maternity protection in Thailand was launched in Bangkok on 21 June as part of IndustriALL Global Union’s South East Asia project for women.
The launch was attended by IndustriALL’s Asia-Pacific women committee members and a number of affiliates in Thailand. A key demand of the campaign will be for Thailand to ratify ILO Convention 183 on maternity protection. The new project will also provide more opportunities for women to participate in union activities and give women the skills to attain leadership positions.
A planning workshop on gender-equality and maternal health among workers took place prior to the project launch. Women in private companies have less maternity benefits than women working in government enterprises in Thailand. Contract workers have no maternity benefits and sometimes resort to illegal abortion to avoid termination of employment.
Following the launch, IndustriALL led a two-day training workshop from 21-22 June, on leadership development for women. Participants discussed sex and gender, sexual division of labour and how women’s participation in trade unions increases awareness of women’s struggles in the workplace. A commitment to educate and engage family members and other women workers should be prioritized when striving for gender equality.
Members of the Asia-Pacific women’s committee shared their challenges and gains when becoming leaders in their respective unions. Participants also strengthened their commitment and vowed to put forward their campaign for improved maternity protection in Thai legislation with the support of IndustriALL affiliates in other countries of the region.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Monika Kemperle attended the workshop and talked about Industry 4.0; its advantages and impact on workers, particularly to women. With the continuous digitization, women will be most affected resulting in increased precarious employment, replacement of the workforce by artificial intelligence and issues of lower wages and high prices of commodities.
Kemperle encouraged women to lead and initiate strategic actions to respond to issues and concerns related to digitization and Industry 4.0, saying that actions like social dialogue with companies and participation in tripartite councils are essential factors and campaign for a just transition for workers to be affected.