DRC: The UNTC and organising women in the informal economy

With support from the CGSLB (Centrale Générale des Syndicats Libéraux de Belgique) and the WBI (La Regional Wallonne de Bruxelles), 50 women trade union leaders in the informal economy and members of the UNTC took part in a training course organised by the women’s trade union centre in Mbuji-Mayi. The women were divided into two groups of 25 with the first training course on the 16 – 17 September and the second group on 18 – 19 September.

The aim was to train women propagandists in the informal economy in Mbujimayi, a landlocked city more than 944 kilometres as the bird flies from the capital Kinshasa. The city has a very high cost of living but the majority of the production units “the companies” including the Bakwanga “MIBA” mining company (diamond extracting company), who were once responsible for the good times are now bankrupt.

Nonetheless Mbujimayi remains the second city in the country ahead of Lubumbashi. Problems related to labour conditions in the informal economy in general and for women in particular have intensified in a city in which 95% of activities are dominated by the informal economy. Likewise women in Kasaï Oriental lag significantly behind in terms of emancipation as a result of several obstacles, particularly of a socio-cultural and socio-educational nature.

During this training course several modules were adapted to suit women in the informal economy, they include:
1. The UNTC trade union
2. Organising women in the informal economy
3. Gender and the gender approach : the case of women in the informal economy in MBUJI MAYI
4. Development of a list of demands
5. Legislation and procedure to set up a trade union and a non-profit organisation
6. Difficulties and challenges faced by workers in the informal economy:
7. Communication and bargaining in the informal economy
8. Introduction to entrepreneurship
9. Collection and management of union dues
10. Setting up of trade union support services :
• Creation of a trade union support service : for micro-finance
• Setting up of a sewing workshop

Guy Mpembele, the project leader officially presented the office equipment for the women’s trade union centre office and the first batch of equipment for the sewing workshop to the heads of the trade union centre and of the UNTC/Kasaï oriental.
A micro-finance instrument is also foreseen as part of this project to enable women in the informal economy who are excluded from the mainstream financial system to ask for a small loan to develop their businesses.

Article provided by the UNTC, DRC