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IndustriALL empowers women workers in Kenya

  • Women union workshop in Nairobi, Kenya

21 April, 2015On 24 and 25 March a special training for 25 women from IndustriALL affiliates in Nairobi was organized. The women got an understanding of their role in the family and society and learned about women's leadership. They are leaders who just need the opportunity to take off.

When discussing women’s role in trade unions, participants identified a number of problems women are facing in Kenya; companies lay women off when they fall pregnant; casual workers sign a contract only for three months and maternity rights are not even an issue; women's health needs more attention as women do not eat properly in an attempt to save money. Participants agreed that unions need to fight for maternity rights.

At the workshop women did a practical task of their workplace mapping, which revealed the job segregation at work. For example only men do ironing, and women cannot work in the boiler areas. However, due to the unions the situation at the workplace is changing, for example workers do not have to stay extra hours at their job until they met their target.

The participants discussed the idea of women's committees, which do not exist in either of their unions. They also looked at the unions' allocation of executive seats to women. Some had reserved seats, some have women's coordinators but no women's structure. More work needs to be done to make sure women take center stage.

During discussion of the tasks of the women's committees, the participants pointed to the necessity for women to participate in collective bargaining or their demands will be dropped.

At the end of the meeting the participants resolved to:

- provide a copy of the Collective bargaining  agreement to every member,

- encourage more women to join the union,

- raise the issue of women rights with the management

- advise women to make use of their rights and practice their abilities,

- make sure that there is enough ventilation to prevent women from fainting

- fight for more contract workers to join the union,

- fight to make contract workers permanent