BWI Women share proposals on building a gender-equal future

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, BWI convened a global meeting of women trade union officials from affiliates on March 7 to look back on the enormous body of work on gender equality that has been done by the global union and its affiliates since its last Congress in 2017. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson welcomed the participants and expressed satisfaction on the achievements made on gender equality since the BWI Congress in Durban. He noted that women are not only now found in important decision-making structures, they are also leading discussions of substance on topics such a climate change, the future of work, and peace and security. 

Yuson, together with BWI International Women Committee Chair Rita Schiavi, gave special acknowledgements to the women who are leading various political struggles in their countries, and expressed deep solidarity to the women in Ukraine, Russia and Myanmar. 

Meanwhile, BWI IWC Secretary Anna Andreeva, who is taking shelter in Moldovia after having fleeing Ukraine, gave updates on the latest situation in the embattled country. She thanked BWI and affiliates for their solidarity and support. 

Schiavi opened the meeting by highlighting some of the achievements of BWI. She also talked about the many contributions that women can make to build a better future for all, including being a strong voice on climate change. She urged others to join in the discussions and give their input to craft a new strategic plan for gender equality.

For her part, BWI Global Staff Aisha Bahadur presented a preliminary report on the activities and actions taken based on the 2018 Strategic Plan Under the gender equality focus area, she highlighted the results and achievements on women leadership development, amplifying women’s voices, training and skills development, addressing violence and harassment and advancing ILO Convention No. 190. She also gave an update on BWI's three global gender campaigns: value women’s  work, stop macho culture and women in trades. Bahadur concluded by highlighting some areas for consideration in the new strategic plan.

The presentation generated a great deal of discussion in a session moderated by Crecentia Mofokeng, BWI Regional Representative for Africa and Middle East Region. Participants appreciated the role BWI played in creating spaces for women, urging their fellow affiliates to do the same. They said that these spaces created strong women leadership. They also said that their gender work is building momentum on key issues benefitting women directly in workplaces. 


There were various suggestions that were shared on what should be covered in BWI’s new strategic plan for a gender-equal future. Some of these are:

  1. Defending worker rights for women workers, especially with regard to job security and pushing back on informalisation. 
  2. Strengthening CBAs with inclusion of policies for safer work environment, decent and healthy work environment and improved working conditions for women workers. 
  3. Continuing the push for more ratifications of ILO C 190 and translating it to national policies.
  4. Continuing the campaign for safe workplaces free of violence, harassment and discrimination against women and those with non-normative sexual identities.
  5. Addressing mental health and stress in OHS programmes and agendas.
  6. Reaching out to young women and create conducive environment for their participation in the workplace as well as in the union. 
  7. Strengthening global networking and solidarity by creating opportunities to share experiences and work together. 
  8. Strengthening women structures in the union and promoting supportive networks amongst women worker leaders on the ground as well as for unionised women workers. 
  9. Strengthening community and grassroots organising to reach out to women that are often difficult to reach in precarious work, including those in the informal sector and migrant workers.

Schiavi closed the meeting by thanking everyone who contributed their ideas. She emphasised that written contributions should be submitted to the secretariat to ensure that BWI continues its good work on gender equality leading to its Global Congress this year and beyond.