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Regional conferences approve women’s quota

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22 May, 2014The Latin American and Caribbean Regional Conference as well as the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference, both held in May 2014, approved the 40 per cent quota for women at all levels in IndustriALL.

Similar resolutions were passed at both conferences, although the resolution at the Asia-Pacific conference is slightly broader. It reads:

“We call on IndustriALL to commit itself to reaching gender parity at every level of our Federation and within our affiliates.

As an important step to achieve this we call on IndustriALL to amend its statutes to set a quota of a minimum 40 per cent women’s representation at all levels of IndustriALL in the Congress, the Executive committee and the leadership including the President and the Vice Presidents, the General Secretary and the Assistant General Secretaries, and including all trainings and capacity building in general and in all IndustriALL activities. The sectors need to have one Co-President man and one Co-President woman.

The women’s working group should consider through discussions with affiliates measures to reach this quota.”

Regional women’s conferences were held the day before each regional conference. At these conferences a series of issues were contemplated, from violence against women to precarious work and organizing, maternity protection, health and safety and women’s leadership.

Violence was especially important at the conference in Colombia, not least against the backdrop of the violence faced by trade unionists there. Sexual harassment and bullying are still rampant even in sophisticated workplaces, not to mention among contract workers. IndustriALL was urged to launch a campaign to combat violence against women.

One feature at the conference in Colombia was the role played by young people. The women’s conference was opened by a young woman who is the first woman in Colombia to drive a coal train, with all of the challenges that involves, even including the lack of sanitary facilities for women.

Precarious work is of vital concern to women in particular. Moreover the majority of workers in the informal economy, which is predominant in most developing countries, are women. IndustriALL needs to continue its work to stop precarious work and especially to organize precarious workers. Since most of the work is outsourced in the meantime in all sectors, this means that more women are present even in what was traditionally male dominated industries.

Maternity protection has still not been achieved for most women workers and for contract workers in particular. Women are still forced to hide their pregnancies, even to the point of miscarrying. In addition ILO Convention 183 on maternity protection has not been ratified by any country in Asia Pacific. These attacks against women will continue until and unless maternity is accepted as a social responsibility and public policies are put into place to ensure safe pregnancies, childcare and maternity and paternity rights. Both conferences insisted that the responsibility for children has to be shared equally by men and women.

In connection with health and safety the focus was on the tragedy in Bangladesh. IndustriALL’s efforts with the Accord were applauded. Bangladesh was also the focus in connection with efforts to achieve a living wage, in which Cambodia was also highlighted.

Women in panels portrayed successful stories of women leadership and were an example to all.

With these and similar efforts we are confident that IndustriALL will achieve decent work for women.