From 25-27 September 2019 the Third Sub regional Women’s Conference for Eastern Europe and Central Asia took place in Odessa, Ukraine. The conference brought together over 25 women trade union leaders from Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The focus of the Conference was trade union strategies to fight against any forms of discrimination and gender-based violence in the world of work.
To start the discussion on trade union strategies to fight any forms of discrimination, participants reviewed international standards, in particular the ILO Conventions #100 and #111. Mariko Ouchi, Specialist on Working Conditions and Gender and Employment Equality, ILO Decent Work Team and Country Office for Central and Eastern Europe joined the Conference via skype and helped participants to understand grounds of discrimination, field of application of the international conventions with the specific focus on gender pay gap.
The new ILO Convention #190 and Recommendation #206 to combat violence and harassment in the world of work were also presented by the ILO-Budapest and ILO-Ukraine offices with the specific focus on how these new international tools could be used by trade unions. During the discussion that followed both presentations, participants were able to share trade union and personal cases of discrimination, violence and harassment at the workplace and discuss trade union strategies on how to fight back these forms of labour and human rights violations.
On the second day of the conference, participants organized a public action on the streets of Odessa under the slogan “I will not be silent. Stop gender-based violence”. During the action women trade union leaders encouraged people to speak up about any cases of gender-based violence and educated them about new international standards.
“Adoption of the new international standards to combat violence and harassment in world of work is a great achievement for the international labour movement, but this is just the beginning of our path,” said Lesya Gusak, member of the BWI European Regional Women’s Committee.
She continued, “In the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia we need to do a lot of work to bring the issue of gender-based violence and harassment to the public discourse and push our governments to ratify ILO Convention 190. This is why we went to the streets of Odessa to talk with people about new Convention and the urgent need to stop any forms of discrimination and gender-based violence.”
During the Conference participants also discussed the inclusion of clauses against discrimination and gender-based violence in collective bargaining agreements and how to utilize the campaign to ”Stop Gender-based Violence” as an organizing tool.