BWI holds successful Women in Trades Exchange in Asia Pacific, South Africa and Middle East

150 participants from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions attended BWI’s successful Women in Trades Exchange as part of the global union’s effort to push forward its “Global Women In Trades Campaign.”

BWI Asia Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino said that BWI organised the well-attended online exchange to inspire trade union affiliates to discuss and learn the latest initiatives on how to organise more women workers in the male-dominated construction sector and underscore the importance of trade unions in promoting gender equality. 

The online exchange had a rich and diverse set of presentations from Jane Vargas of NUBCW and AWWCI in the Philippines, Akayezu Marie of STECOMA-Rwanda, Shalini Trivedi of SEWA-India and Amal Mannai from FGBB-Tunisa. They shared their respective unions’ various strategies and lessons on how they overcame the barriers that many women construction workers face, such as gender inequality and sexism, multiple burden, and work and income discrimination. Diverse efforts promoting women access to more skills trainings, recognition of women workers’ skills and increased employment opportunities for women were also discussed.  

Participants eagerly shared their experiences and the work of their unions on gender equality during the plenary discussions. They spoke about how their unions have made important gains in pushing forward inclusive policies in union structures, workplaces and national labour legislation. They also gave inspiring examples on the different efforts to increase women workers’ leadership roles in the construction sector. 

Trade unions in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions all agreed that there is a strong need to change cultural perceptions on women workers, including organising male trade unionists as allies for gender equality. BWI Regional Representative for Africa and the Middle East Crecentia Mofokeng echoed this sentiment. “There is a saying that by empowering women, we empower our communities and enlighten our future,” she said. 

The online event ended with BWI committing to conduct similar exchanges in the regions of Europe and Latin America. Further discussions will be fostered through BWI’s “Skilled Sisterhood Under Construction Network” leading to the Global Women in Trades Conference in 2022. 

BWI affiliates are encouraged to sign up and participate in the BWI Global Women in Trades Campaign. Register here.  

To watch the online exchange, go here.