UNSAS multiplies the creation of regional Women’s Committees for strengthened women’s leadership in Senegal

The National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal (UNSAS) has undertaken the establishment of regional women’s committees throughout the country. Six new committees are in the process of being set up by the end of 2023, bringing the total number of regional women’s committees to 13 out of 14 regions.

UNSAS is the second-largest trade union confederation in Senegal in terms of affiliated members. Its national women’s committee is responsible for bringing together female workers within the confederation to contribute to their empowerment, both in the workplace and in society at large.

Renewed in 2019, the national committee’s mission is to revitalise the mobilisation of women within grassroots trade union organisations. Since then, UNSAS has established four women’s committees in the regions of Saint Louis, Louga, Thiès, and Diourbel. By the end of 2023, six new committees will be created in the regions of Fatick, Kaolack, Kaffrine, Tambacounda, Kédougou, Ziguinchor, Kolda, and Sédhiou. The committee in the 14th and final region, Matam, is expected to be established in 2024.

For UNSAS, the active participation of women is essential in the fight to improve their positions and conditions in the workplace, including the battle against workplace violence and the struggle for gender equality in Senegal.

"At UNSAS, we recognise that the unionisation of women is crucial for modern and effective unionism. Women have an extraordinary mobilisation capacity and are well-represented in various professional sectors, both in the public and private sectors, and especially in the informal sector where women are nearly the majority," explains Nafissa Samb, President of the National Women’s Committee of UNSAS.

This revitalisation work is also part of UNSAS’ commitment to contribute to Senegal’s sustainable development, particularly the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals five and eight (SDG 5 for gender equality and SDG 8 for sustainable economic growth and decent work).

In practice, the national committee’s office supports the capacity building of women within the regional committees. Each regional committee is informed and educated about the ratification of ILO Convention 190 (which Senegal has not yet ratified) and the impact of digital technology on women’s empowerment, as well as measures for social protection and decent work for women workers.

Furthermore, the regional committees are encouraged to collaborate with public authorities and regional employers to strengthen women’s representation and leadership when presenting their specific demands at the negotiation table. UNSAS takes on the responsibility of enhancing and upgrading the skills of each regional committee’s chairwomen to lead, guide, and manage the committees.

"It is important that we succeed in maintaining this long-term work, hence our investment in training our regional executives. We will also ensure that the acquired skills are passed on to all members of each committee and beyond," emphasises Nafissa Samb.