Promoting gender equality in trade unions – Interview with Lucimara de Oliveira

24 July 2018 21:10

Lucimara Costa de Oliveira together with the union's vice president Juarez Nascimento.

Lucimara Costa de Oliveira is the Finance Secretary of the civil construction and cement workers union STICC in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is also the first woman elected to the Executive Board of the trade union federation FETICOM.

What are the challenges for workers in the construction and cement industries in Brazil?

Unemployment caused by the stoppages of civil construction projects investments is one of the biggest problems faced by civil construction and cement workers. The instability and job insecurity also weaken the ability to negotiate collective bargaining agreements which leads to low salary readjustments.

How is the Brazilian crisis affecting working women?

The rising unemployment makes many working women return to household activities. The high cost of living makes it difficult for women to take care of the household as well. On top of this, domestic violence tends to increase when women become more financially dependent on men, resulting in male domination and exploitation. Women also get more excluded from both public activities, access to studies and leisure.

What is the union's role in promoting gender equality?

Although women actively participate in union activities, including radical strikes, they are still practically excluded from decision-making positions within unions. We need to promote gender equality within in trade union movement itself. We need to respect the opinions and the capacity of women, giving them opportunities to actively participate, promote skill training and union leadership training.

Female participation in collective bargaining teams increases the possibility of including gender fair clauses in collective bargaining agreements to combat inequalities. It is important for the union movement to have campaigns to promote gender equality within and outside their organizations.

Why should we address gender inequalities in the trade union movement?

All responsibilities, rights and opportunities must be equally granted for both women and men. Gender equality requires that men and women enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas. Everyone should have equal access to education, job opportunities, professional careers and leadership positions within social movements.