Gender Thematic Forum focuses on Jobs and Justice for All: Women Make it Possible
The BWI Congress events in Thailand took off with a very well attended Gender Thematic Forum that witnessed participation of women leaders from across the world. "There is now increased and active participation of women unionists across activities and programmes like in the BWI youth festival in Germany earlier this year. The ongoing congress in Thailand also demonstrates the growing involvement of women leadership including young women workers." Ambet Yuson, general secretary of the BWI. The Forum saw participation of more than 80 unionists from different regions.

Encouraging examples of women leaders from Bosnia, Brazil, Uganda, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Curacao were put forward.

Klaus Wiesehugel, President of the BWI highlighted the challenges faced by women in different settings across the globe which are similar in nature. He cited the financial crisis that adversely impacted women workers - “the financial crisis resulted in precarious employment without any contracts and also lay-offs. Organising and reaching out to women has been difficult but we are happy to note that despite challenges, we have been able to strengthen the role of women in our organisation.” Later, Chidi King from the Equality Department, ITUC presented the major campaigns carried out by the ITUC.

The Regional Women Committees came up with a review of the regional landscape capturing the background of key regional issues impacting women workers in BWI sectors. Issues of discrimination, sexual harassment, growing informalisation of work, skills and wage gaps, dual responsibilities, limited representation of women at decision making levels including union structures emerged as common issues.

The forum provided pointers for the global women’s campaign to ensure gender equality and mainstreaming across BWI activities and programmes – these included political visibility of women unionists, knowledge building, training and mentorship for women leaders especially the young women unionists.

Edna Opoku Boackye, Chair of the International Women’s Committee commented “Women hold up half the sky – women have to work to claim their spaces and be prepared to take up leadership positions to restore gender equality across sectors and across geographical locations.”