23 September, 2015Some 300 women from all continents met in Vienna from 14 to 16 September 2015 at IndustriALL Global Union’s First Women World Conference to debate issues ranging from maternity protection to women’s representation and violence against women.
Women from Australia to Zimbabwe work as heroes in male-dominated sectors such as mines and the oil industry. They are pioneers in these workplaces, all of which have always been designed by and for men. Women have fought to be employed in these jobs. Nevertheless they still face violence at the hands of their bosses and comrades, even more so if they are contract workers. The first step to stop violence is to make it visible; for women to break their silence.
The fight against precarious work is one of IndustriALL’s most important campaigns. Stopping violence against women and providing maternity protection for women workers are part and parcel of this campaign. Pregnant women are afraid to lose their jobs and hide their pregnancy even to the point of miscarriage. Women work long hours, sometimes 10 to 12 hours a day, just to eke out a living. Exaggerated productivity targets make women sick. Earning a living wage would vastly improve their quality of life.
These and other concerns were included in the Equality Charter, which was adopted by the conference. The conclusions reflect the debates and the Charter and are as follows:
- Women and men have different health issues
- Precarious work affects women’s health
- Stress and psychosocial health effects need more attention
- Work still needs to be done on HIV/AIDS
- Work to ratify ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection
- Negotiate on maternity protection in collective agreements including paid maternity leave, transfer to lighter work during pregnancy, no pregnancy testing and job protection
- Society must take responsibility for maternity
- Fathers must take responsibility
- Take all types of families into consideration
- IndustriALL will have a permanent campaign against violence
- Campaign against violence on social media
- Negotiate on clauses against violence
- Make violence a topic in networks
- Commemorate 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
- New industrial structures – borders are blurred between manual and non-manual work
- Borders are blurred between formal and informal work
- Focus on women in male-dominated sectors
- Organize youth
- Mobilize on 7 October – World Day for Decent Work
- Campaign for women-friendly public policies
- Fight against stereotypes
- Negotiate on living wage, also for a better quality of life
- Celebrate 8 March, International Women’s Day
- Consolidate structures for women’s leadership
The women took these conclusions home and will deliver on them with their typical energy and enthusiasm.