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Women show the way in Mexico

9 April, 2015IndustriALL Global Union and its Mexican mining union affiliate Los Mineros organized a women's meeting on 7 April 2015 in Mexico City on the eve of the second Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Monica Veloso, member of IndustriALL’s Executive committee, opened the meeting by reminding participants that Latin America is taking a leading role in women's representation.

Ten women who took part in Los Mineros’ leadership training programme “Mineras de acero” shared their experiences at the meeting. In Mexican mines women represent on average ten per cent of the workforce.

At the Phosphate rock mine, Rofomex, five women work alongside 1,500 men. At the Minera Peñasquito mine, there are 117 women out of a total workforce of 1,579.

The women do the same jobs as men and get the same pay and benefits, earning five times the national minimum wage. They believe they are better off than the women who work in free trade zones in the North of Mexico and they are learning practical skills and tools.

Women also face other challenges, for instance, kindergartens are available in Mexico, but they are usually far away from the mine. The women work two weeks on and one week off because they live far away and cannot commute to and from work everyday. They have decent accommodation in camps, but they have to leave their children with their mothers. More accessible kindergartens would also be a welcome demand for men because there is a significant number of single fathers.

Two participants from Trinidad and Tobago working at ArcelorMittal explained that at their factory women only used to work in administration, but now they make steel. They get equal pay for equal work. Usually men are still given preference in hiring, but thanks to union demands, women now get hired as well. Women also face less discrimination. Over the years there has been a lot of sexual harassment. It takes a while for women to speak out and realize that they can fight against it.

In Brazil, metalworkers’ union CUT is fighting for gender parity. According to their policies at least one woman should be elected to the top leadership positions either as president, general secretary or treasurer.

Monica Veloso concluded that "women have to be protagonists and present in their local organizations".  The real work to achieve better women's representation has to be done at grassroots.

Participants decided to create a regional women’s network to get to know each other's realities better and to continue gathering strength to get their proposals adopted.