The WFTU Web Seminar “Gender equality and working women’s rights” for trade unions from African countries was held with the participation of 17 women and men trade unionists from the following countries: Algeria, Gabon, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, RD Congo, Senegal and South Africa. The Coordinator of the WFTU Women’s Committee, sister Grace Mathapelo Khanye from NUM, South Africa, participated and addressed the seminar.
The Colleague Calli Patouna, special counselor of WFTU Headquarters, presented the main intervention, where she mentioned, among others:
Today’s seminar on “Gender equality and working women’s rights in African countries” is taking place under the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, that clearly affects women much stronger than men, as statistics reveal.
It is obvious that women are more vulnerable to economic shocks, such as the coronavirus pandemic crisis, due to their participation in the labor market which often is in the form of temporary employment, or because the majority of women are employed in service sector ( 55% of women in comparison with 44% of men). Moreover, female-dominated service sectors such as food, hospitality and tourism are among those expected to feel the harshest economic effects of the measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The WFTU’s permanent demand on public health system and free healthcare for all, without restrictions, is a vital issue for women in African countries. Definitely healthcare and especially maternal health care is not a task to be assigned to volunteers. Nor our health can be left on charitable donations and doubtful NGO’s.
The class-oriented trade union movement fought and fights with stability for the end of enslavement and trafficking of women, for their right to vote, to participate in unions, political parties and governments, equal pay for equal work, full social protection for all women independently of labor form.
Especially, women’s participation in the organized trade union struggle is crucial for WFTU. The role of the working women in the productive process, within the unions and in the political struggle can provide a great deal of dynamism to the popular struggles in the present and in the future.