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Youth and women leaders in Nepal and Bangladesh resolve to fight GBVH

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5 September, 2023In August, IndustriALL organized a series of workshops with youth and women union leaders in Bangladesh and Nepal as part of the South Asia building inclusive unions project.

Over the years, IndustriALL affiliates in South Asia have recognized the importance of developing women's and young people's leadership, a need also emphasized in IndustriALL's action plan. To that end, IndustriALL has been conducting workshops with women and youth union leaders around South Asia.

The focus of the workshops with young leaders, of whom about 50 per cent were women, was gender-based violence and harassment in workplace. In earlier meetings, young leaders had identified GBVH as one of their top priority areas to work on. As part of their action plan, young leaders have taken on the task to carry out risk assessment for GBVH in their respective factories, in close consultation with their leadership.

Young leaders in both countries discussed the need to discuss and review union statutes to include more young leaders.

Hasan Ali, a young leader from the Bangladesh Textile garments workers League (BTGWL), says:

“We resolve to take initiatives within our unions to build a more inclusive space that welcomes all genders, including members from the LGBQTIA+ community. We are also committed to working towards eradicating all forms of violence and harassment in the workplace, including in union spaces.”

Women trade unionists, in both countries, had in-depth discussion on gender roles, power relations, misogyny, sexism, gender discrimination and GBVH, as well as inclusion of women in leadership positions in trade unions. Women leaders shared experiences of violations of their rights, including violence they face.

Gita Bhandari,  woman leader from the Whole Industry Trade Union in Nepal, says:

“Many of our unions do not have a gender policy and we must strive to build one in each of our unions. To advance workers’ rights, it’s essential that unions have more women in the decision-making body of trade unions, including leadership roles.”

Women leaders also resolved to campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 190.

On 23–24 August, women union leaders from IndustriALL-affiliated unions in Bangladesh met in Dhaka, and on 25–26 August, youth union leaders met. A workshop with women unionists from IndustriALL’s affiliates in Nepal was conducted in Kathmandu on 27-28 August, while that with young leaders was organised on 29-30 August.