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Swedish and Zambian unions tackle gender issues

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3 December, 2019To be effective against sexual harassment, unions need to identify the root causes, expressions and consequences of the violations. Unions should also continue to raise awareness on gender inequality and prevention and to follow up on sexual harassment.

These are some of the recommendations from a gender workshop whose goal was to identify ways to develop policies to stop sexual harassment in unions, to educate women workers, and come up with procedures to prevent unwanted behaviours.
The 18 participants who attended the workshop in Lusaka on 26 November were from the IndustriALL Global Union Sub Saharan Africa regional office, Zambian IndustriALL affiliates, and Swedish unions. 

The workshop discussed norms and gender roles, linking them to power analysis, which is important in sexual harassment cases. Gender inequality was discussed as one of the drivers of sexual harassment.

Issues discussed included definitions of feminism and patriarchy considering similarities and differences in the Zambian and Swedish contexts. Other concepts discussed included empowerment and disempowerment and structural oppression.

The concept of intersectionality and how different systems of power, like age, gender and nationality, interact in oppression and how this shaped gender was discussed.
Karin Ström, international policy officer, and Lina Andersson, gender policy officer from Unionen and Fanny Högrell, trade union officer, IF Metall, explained their unions systematic work on gender equality, the long struggle for recognition on these issues, the battles won and the challenges ahead.
Paule France Ndessomin IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, said:

”Global solidarity is important in building the capacity of unions to confront sexual harassment and gender based violence. The campaign for countries to adopt ILO C190 on violence and harassment in the world of work is gaining momentum. We are calling on our affiliates to put pressure on their governments to ratify the convention.”