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Training to end workplace digital divide in Africa

9 March, 2023IndustriALL Global Union’s continuous digital training in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) coincides with the UN 2023 theme for International Women’s Day - DigitALL world: innovation and technologies for gender equality.

The IndustriALL SSA office has been training unions in information communication technology (ICT) and digitalization since 2021. The aim is to train unions in using digital technologies in protecting workers’ rights, union organizing, collective bargaining, and social dialogue. The hybrid training was facilitated by International Federation of Worker Education Associations (IFWEA) and included participants from Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  

Secretary at Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers (AUKMW), Tracy Adhiambo, uses the acquired skills in digital organizing, campaigns, collective bargaining, alliance building and social dialogue. Through the training she has started to convert paper files into digital files for the union. The union has also developed an app. 

“The AUKMW app makes it easy for workers to join. After receiving the information we follow up and refer workers to their nearest branch. Informal sector artisans who work in areas away from union offices can download the app on their smartphones,”

says Tracey. 

Abigail Moyo, UASA spokesperson, who participated in the first training workshop in Cape Town in 2021, writes in an International Women’s Day statement: 

“We need to consider the rapid evolution of the world of work with digitalization and automation, especially the impact of the digital gender gap, which will continue to widen gender-based inequalities in society.”

Saliem Patel, IFWEA programme manager, explains: 

“The strategic partnership between IFWEA and IndustriALL’s regional office has resulted in positive gains for youth and women trade union activists. Participants have been involved in online education, the development of online trade union recruitment tools, and the pioneering of cloud-based databases of collective bargaining agreements. This has placed youth and women in core trade union work, and they are now bringing innovation and rejuvenation into the labour movement through their commitment to unity and workers’ power.”

“If fully utilised by trade unions, digital skills can play an important role in closing the gender pay gap, ending gender discrimination, and in campaigns to ratify ILO Convention 190 to eliminate gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work. Further, the marginalization of women and youth can be ended as they are the most active group on digital platforms including social media. The regional office will continue to assist unions with ICT support to enable them to transition to paperless offices,”

says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for SSA.

The partners supporting the training are the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Trade Union Competence Centre for Sub Saharan Africa and Union to Union. IFWEA is the technical partner.