1st World Women’s Conference: Conclusions and Recommendations

1st World Women’s Conference, Brussels (Belgium) 19 – 21 October 2009

Decent Work – Decent Life for Women: Trade Unions Taking the Lead for Economic and Social Justice & Equality

Conclusions and Recommendations:

The ITUC 1st World Women’s Conference, representing 450 delegates from 102 countries, discussed key issues related to the Conference theme:
• Decent Work to Confront the Crisis
• The Global Crisis and Organising for Rights at Work
• Climate Change and Food Security
• Gender Equality through Collective Bargaining
• Social Protection and Social Security
• Domestic Workers
• Young Women Workers

The principle conclusions are as follows:

a) Women have increasingly become part of the paid workforce and of trade unions, and there have been important achievements in organising, collective bargaining, and rights, but as highlighted in the ILO report on Global Employment Trends for Women 2009, women are “often in a disadvantaged position in comparison to men in labour markets around the world [and that] in most regions, the gender impact of the economic crisis in terms of unemployment rates is expected to be more detrimental for females than for males”.

b) The ITUC Women’s Conference is deeply concerned that the commitment to advancing gender equality is not eroded by the global economic crisis, and strongly supports the 2009 International Labour Conference resolution on gender equality which pointed out that “crises should not be used as excuses to create even greater inequalities nor undermine women’s acquired rights”, and calls for implementation of the agreed Jobs Pact, which specifically urges:
“measures to retain persons in employment, to sustain enterprises and to accelerate employment creation and jobs recovery combined with social protection systems in particular for the most vulnerable integrating gender concerns on all measures.”

c) In spite of advances made, millions of women remain outside of the formal employment market in the informal economy, including domestic work, atypical employment, and other vulnerable forms of employment. Organising these workers, as well as those in EPZs (Export Processing Zones) into unions and achieving Decent Work, Decent Life for all Women must be a priority for trade unions fighting for economic and social justice.

d) Trade unions must work together to ensure the following equality international labour conventions are fully ratified, and implementation into national legislation effectively monitored: 100 on Equal Remuneration, 111 on Discrimination, 156 on Family Responsibilities and 183 on Maternity Protection, 175 on Part-Time Work and 177 on Home Work.

e) Equal pay for work of equal value remains a critical area for trade union action, as the report launched at the ITUC Women’s Conference “The Decent Work Agenda: a gender perspective” demonstrates - the gender pay gap worldwide has not narrowed over the last three years.

f) Women trade unionists must be empowered with information and be fully involved in achieving a ‘just transition’ to sustainable jobs and development, as stressed in the discussion guide produced for the ITUC Women’s Conference: “women as producers, consumers, educators, mothers, ‘change agents’ in workplaces and homes should play a greater role in tackling climate change and addressing food insecurity.”

g) The ITUC Women’s Conference underlines the vital importance of affirmative action measures and rigorous monitoring procedures to ensure implementation of ITUC commitments to achieving gender equality.

The ITUC 1st World Women’s Conference puts forward the following recommendations and Action Plans to be implemented at international, regional and national levels:

1. Action Plan for Organising Women Workers

That all unions implement an Action Plan for involving women workers as organisers, and for organising women workers, including:
a. In the informal economy
b. In EPZs
c. Domestic Workers
d. Young women workers eg ITUC Decisions for Life Project
e. Atypical workers
f. Rural women workers
g. Migrant workers

2. Action Plan for Collective Bargaining, Social Dialogue and Gender Equality

That all unions ensure fair participation of women negotiators, and implement an Action Plan for collective bargaining, social dialogue and gender equality, including:
• Job security, decent work and a minimum wage
• Work-life balance, maternity rights, breastfeeding, paternity and parental leave, flexible working, childcare and eldercare support
• Pay and purchasing power – closing the pay and pensions gap
• Gender-sensitive job evaluation and desegregation of the labour market
• Equal promotion and training opportunities for women
• Women’s health & safety at the workplace and in health policy, including HIV/AIDS
• Policies and procedures to eliminate sexual harassment, bullying and violence from the workplace, the home and wider community
• Freedom of Association and paid time off for trade union representatives
• Training for all negotiators and union representatives in the incorporation of gender policies in all trade union actions
• Support for monitoring of the achievement of gender equality through measurable indicators of Decent Work for Women

3. Worldwide Action on Gender Equality, Economic & Social Justice, Climate Change and Food Security

That all unions:
• Ensure women are full participants in all plans to implement the Jobs Pact and campaign for investment in green jobs for women and men

• Campaign for the MDG 1 on poverty and hunger through the ITUC campaign Decent Work, Decent Life for Women

• Lobby for governments to ratify and implement ILO conventions into national law

• Actively support the recommendations of the ILC Report on Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work and promote the use of the ILO Gender Audit tool

• Campaign for the adoption of an international labour standard for domestic workers, and the involvement of domestic workers at the International Labour Conference 2010-11; protect and defend migrant domestic workers

• Condemn violations of trade union women’s rights and violence against trade union women and actively participate in the International Day to End Violence against Women 25 November

• Support social security and pensions for all

• Continue campaigning for quality public services, including health, education, transport, water

• Support women’s rights to equal access to resources, including access to ownership of land, microfinance and loans

• Ensure women members have access to education on all areas of trade union work at international level, including the global economic crisis, trade and labour standards, climate change, international institutions

• Actively mobilise for International Women’s Day 8 March as a Global Day of Action

• Support the building of solidarity of women within trade unions and between trade union women at all levels, including international solidarity actions and Global Union Federations

• Share information, experience and best practices in all areas of trade union activity e.g. organising in the informal economy, migrant workers, strong integration of gender equality policies

• Trade union women building alliances with civil society and women’s organisations to achieve common objectives, including the World March of Women

• Promote CEDAW (the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) and the recommendations of the Beijing Platform for Action, ensure the involvement of trade union women at the UN CSW (Commission on the Status of Women), and support the call for a UN 5th World Women’s Conference

5. Women’s Representation in Trade Unions

The ITUC should continue to progress the commitment to achieving gender parity in its programmes and structures, and giving an equal voice and representation to millions of working women worldwide. The ITUC should ensure compliance by its affiliates through gender-disaggregated data collection and tackling non-compliance.

Trade unions should take a lead in achieving gender equality in all their programmes, policies, structures and activities and analyse gender-disaggregated data to ensure coherence between their policies and those of the ITUC.