Interview with Marta Pujadas, President of BWI Women LAC Regional Committee


Marta Pujadas of the Construction Workers’ Union of the Republic of Argentina (UOCRA) is in charge of the Legal Area of the union and the Social Network. She also integrates the International Multidisciplinary Team of UOCRA and the General Confederation of Workers.

At international level, she is part of the Human and Trade Union Rights Network and the Continental Legal Team of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas and President of the Technical Advisory Council (COSATE) of the IACML-OAS.

What challenges will women face in the next four years in BWI sectors at regional and global levels?

Despite the achievements and advances of women workers in the conquest of their rights, decent work deficits and gaps in gender inequality persist. Other examples are labor participation inequality, occupational segregation and income, job insecurity, the participation of women in making decision positions, influence and power, as well as in the distribution of unpaid time that men and women dedicate to the care of the family. Our great challenge is to achieve an impact on decision-making spaces for the development of policies that promote equal opportunities for women and men in the access to decent work, which is a well-paid, productive and carried out job in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. We should recall that the ILO believes that gender equality is a decisive element of the activities aimed at achieving its four strategic objectives: Promote and comply with standards and fundamental principles and rights at work; generate greater opportunities for women and men to have decent employment and income; improve the coverage and effectiveness of social security for all and strengthen social dialogue.

What are the priority aspects to include and achieve in the Strategic Plan 2018-2021 regarding gender equality in the case of Latin America and the Caribbean?

It is important to implement and strengthen actions and measures that have as specific objective to advance within the trade union policies in gender parity and the full integration of gender issues. It is important also to keep fighting against all forms of discrimination against women at work.

In addition, it is important to encourage the development of training and capacity building actions on strategic issues for the advancement of gender equity within union structures and society. It is very important that our countries move forward with updated legislation for the generation of rights to achieve the objectives of gender equity.

The BWI World Forum of Women Leaders in November 2017 rescued important contributions for the new Strategic Plan, which will be effective for the next four years. According to your opinion, what kind of internal practices within unions or Union Confederations at the level of national legislations in each country should be implemented as part of the dimensions of building!, defending! and move forward!?

We must deepen campaigns that encourage working women to join unions and to occupy making decision positions and leadership as well as be part of negotiating teams. We also need to encourage BWI affiliates to play a more active role in legislative processes aimed at formulating policies that seek to improve women's quality of life, fight against discrimination and harassment and reduce the gender pay gap. It is important, for this year 2018, to unite to demand that the International Labour Conference of June this year promotes discussions on a possible agreement and recommendation on violence and harassment at the workplace. For this, it is essential that all BWI affiliates support the campaign "Stop Gender Violence" that was launched on International Women's Day. All based on unity in the action of our BWI, based on union solidarity.

What challenges are essential for the advancement of women workers' rights and fundamental freedoms in Argentina?

Working women in my country must still face great challenges. Among them, we must fight to influence in:

  • The participation of women in the formulation of decision-making policies within union organizations and in political spaces;

  • The implementation and promotion of policies to achieve equality in the access of employment opportunities;

  • Reaching the goal of equal pay for equal work value;

  • Reconciliation of work and family life;

  • The treatment of violence and harassment at the workplace. Demand non-discriminatory practices and dispositions tending to stop all violence forms based on gender in the work area.

Could you update us on how the Women's Programme is developed in UOCRA? What are the plans for the next four years?

The objective of the Women's Department of UOCRA is to assist the women construction workers, delegates and the workers of UOCRA’s Social Network, in different topics related to the defense not only their rights but also their children and family rights. For the Department is also important their professional training processes.

The Department of Women, reports directly to the General Secretariat of UOCRA and headed by a young woman, Paula Martínez. She is accompanied by a technical - union team that develops the different programmes of the department.

The objective of the programme is the union training for women delegates, construction workers and workers of UOCRA’s Social Network. The main purpose of this objective is the strengthening of our Institution and improving union action in benefit of women workers and their families.

The annual Work Plan includes the development of annual workshops that address various issues, including: social protection for workers from a gender perspective; the risks associated with gender roles, discrimination - double working hours and sexual harassment; construction risks from a gender perspective; Ergonomic, physical and chemical risks: consequences and prevention causes; the challenges of working women (Equality, Discrimination, Social protection, Reconciliation of social and work life); Health and safety from a gender perspective - Biological and Chemical Risks, Awareness of the impact of drugs; application of law 22250, construction regime; use and application of the "I am a Constructor" Card and our Collective Labor Agreement 76/75.

This area works in coordination with the trade union network, interacting with the UOCRA Youth Departments and together with different teams of the Social Network, such as Teen Team whose purpose is to assist, prevent and promote the health of teens, as subjects of rights and to accompany them in their growth process.