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Women unionists in South East Asia mobilize for year ahead

24 February, 2016Women trade unionists from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines are to make gender equality and maternity protection a priority in 2016, following a series of strategy meetings this month.

In a meeting in Manila from 15 to 16 February, the IndustriALL Philippines Women Committee, with its new set of officers, vowed to strengthen women workers through the formation of women committees. They highlighted the International Labour Organization’s Maternity Protection Convention (183) as their main advocacy issue.  A resolution was also made allocating 5 per cent of their budget to women and women-related programs, and to support the 40 per cent gender quota resolution of the world women’s committee for IndustriALL’s upcoming world congress in October.  The resolution will be presented to the affiliates’ leaders for adoption. 

Fifteen women leaders from the textile, garments, clothing and mining (IWFM and MWFM) industries in Myanmar participated in the annual planning and evaluation meeting in Yangon from 18 to 19 February. Participants said that awareness-raising on the concept of gender equality and responding to issues and concerns of women workers would be the focus for their preliminary activities. They also plan to form women committees in both IWFM and MWFM as part of their action plan. The unions intend to produce accessible information materials on maternity protection law and gender-equality for distribution to members to commemorate International Women’s Day on 8 March.

The thirty women trade union leaders and members who participated in the Cambodia planning and evaluation meeting devised a concrete plan of action identifying organizing, capacity-building, campaign and policy recommendations as the major priorities for the year. Organizing includes formation of women committees at the workplace through regular meetings with women and conducting study sessions through study circles. Capacity-building includes confidence-building among women workers through leadership and communications skills training. Campaigns to advocate ratification of ILO Maternity Protection Convention and for the regularization of short-term contract workers will be a priority and be pushed to be integrated in collective bargaining agreements. 

The ten IndustriALL affiliates in Cambodia also planned to hold simultaneous mobilizations outside workplaces to kick-off activity for International Women’s Day.

Elsewhere in South East Asia, women leaders from IndustriALL affiliates in Indonesia will meet on 7 March 2016.