BWI 5th Congress: Reimagining the future of jobs for women and youth

In a joint session by BWI’s Innovative Unionism Conference and the Women in Trades Conference on 5 October 2022 in Madrid, Spain, women workers and young trade unionists reimagine the future of jobs. The participating trade unionists are delegates to BWI’s 5th World Congress, which is also being held in Spain.  

The event was moderated by  Elieser Córdoba of SUNTRACS-Panama. Resource speakers were Thandiwe Mupani of CLAWUZ-Zimbabwe, Jane Vargas of NUBCW-Philippines, Ana Ximena Nieta of CIT-Mexico, Giacomo Virgilio of FILCA-CISL-Italy, and Ryan Kekeris of IUPAT-North America. 

The speakers took turns in showcasing initiatives and strategies on how to integrate women and young workers in BWI-relevant industries into vocational/skills training. The panelists said that this connection is important to ensure pay equity, and create more interest for women workers to work in the construction, woodworking and even in building materials industries. “No woman should be left behind as we march to the future. We have to recruit and train women on unionism and trade skills and encourage their participation in various levels of decision making. We do this while raising also the gender awareness of our male counterparts,” Ximena said. 

All speakers also agreed that  women and young workers are part of the global trade union movement and the labour force’s successor generation wherein BWI must build a strong program around. The new and various new skills that women and young trade unionists were discussed, along with the crucial social partners that must be involved in the said undertaking to make the initiative successful. “Young people comprise 18-20 percent of the total workforce. We need to attract more young people to our fold. We need to attract young doctors, engineers and generally, organise beyond our circles and borders,” Virgilio remarked. 

The morning session ended with a joint signing of Memorandum of Understanding on union-led labour migration. The document was signed by BWI, UGT-FICA, UOCRA and SINTRACON-SP. “This is a good initiative. If this becomes successful, trade unions will be able to promote fair migration and equal rights for  migrant workers in their countries of origin and countries of destination,” BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said.