Count Us In – Congress commits to women in leadership

Sixty-two trade unions have made a historic pledge to boost the number and influence of women in their organisations marking the determination of the ITUC World Congress to support women’s rights and equality.

The Count Us In! campaign aims to see 80 percent of affiliates of the International Trade Union Confederation with 30 percent of women in their decision-making bodies by 2018.

100 affiliates will sign up to this goal by the end of this week’s 3rd ITUC World Congress in Berlin, and 62 have already made the commitment, including the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO), and the Italian Trade Union Confederation (CGIL).

“The message from women is clear – count us in to the workforce, count us into unions and count us into leadership.

“The employment of women is the fastest way to drive growth and productivity.

“If women were in the workforce in equal numbers, GDP would increase markedly – 4 percent in France, 8 percent in Japan and 34 percent in Egypt. And the workers needed in the care economy to support participation add more jobs,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

Unions that commit to the 30 percent target – which is the minimum required under the ITUC Constitution – are also required to seek a 5 percent increase in women’s membership in each national centre.

The initiative comes at the same time as the ITUC aims to generate 20 million new members in the next four years.

Lucilene Binsfeld from Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) in Brazil told the Congress of practical steps unions could take to engage women, such as holding meetings at times convenient for those with young children, or providing child care, as is done at Canadian Labour Congress events.

Susan Hopgood, President of Education International and federal secretary of the Australian Education Union (AEU), warned that without adequate representation at the highest level of unions, rights directly affecting women would continue to be the first to be negotiated away.