“Workers of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your chains”
The World Federation of Trade Unions [WFTU] Trade Union International Public Services and Allied [TUI PS & A], a class oriented union representing more than 30 million members around the world, joins millions of workers around the world in celebrating the International Working Women’s Day on this 8th of March 2021.
Working women around the world deserve a future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all.
It is in this context that in her statement for International Women’s Day (8 March), UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.”
2020 was a devastating year for workers around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021 is predicted to be worse as most economies around the world continue to struggle to control the virus. Lockdowns have meant that most workers have lost their incomes and livelihoods and do not enjoy either the protection provided for by labour legislation nor the benefits of social security.
In most countries women make up the majority of the frontline workers in the healthcare services and care industries. Some of these women doing care work are immigrants who endure poor pay and poor working conditions. Equally, it is women who dominate in the informal sector and occupy the bottom place in their respective economies and have therefore endured the worst impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Many communities around the world have reported an increase in incidences of domestic violence and abuse against women on account of the Covid-19 related lockdowns.
Under the strenuous conditions brought about by the COVID-19, women all over the world are united in saving lives whilst at the same time, being called upon to put their own lives at risk as they take a lead in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic. This under extremely challenging circumstances such as insufficient and inadequate protective personal equipment, hospital bed shortages, limited staff and long hours. We know that Covid-19 has taken a significant emotional and psychological strain on people. Given the challenges faced singularly by women, one can only imagine their collective vulnerability to depression and anxiety.
Several studies have estimated that women, who make up 60% of the poor working population face particular barriers and, access to assets and participation in economic growth. Some of the challenges faced by women include but are not limited to the following:
- Women are less likely to have (paid) jobs than men, due to the gender gap in employment.
- Women‘s jobs are more likely to be concentrated in the informal economy and in low value-added activities.
- Women are more likely to be in low-wage jobs with poor working conditions or in unpaid work in the family and community (e.g. care of children and elderly and sick people).
- Women face continuous gender-based violence at their places of work and in their homes.
- Young women and girls have less opportunities to attend primary and secondary school than young man and boys.
It is for these reasons that TUI-PS&A will intensify its campaigns internationally through its members in all continents for:
- Awareness and implementation of fair labour and legal rights for women.
- The importance of girls’ access to primary and secondary school education.
- An increase in women‘s representation in higher value-added sectors, including by making the formal economy more accessible and attractive for women.
- Improved and equal wages and salaries for women in work places.
We finally call upon all our members to continue to work with WFTU globally to highlight the strong message for women’s equal rights in health and safety at work and in society and against violence at the workplaces and at home.
Issued by Zola Saphetha General Secretary TUI-PS&A