Celebrating the International Women’s Day

Keywords : Gender Equality Communique

On March 8th every year, the international community celebrates Women’s Day. The theme for this year "Equality for women is progress for all" underlines how gender equality, women’s emancipation, the full enjoyment of their human rights, and poverty eradication are essential to economic and social development. It also emphasizes women’s role in the development process. At ITUC-Africa, we fully share this vision of the role of women in the trade union movement.

Women’s economic empowerment is fundamentally necessary for the achievement of our priority goals. There is evidence that an increase in women’s income contributes greatly to the fulfilment of their families’ basic needs, including food, education and children’s health.

Therefore, investing in women’s economic empowerment is ensuring the well-being of all of us. That is why ITUC-Africa has embarked on a social and solidarity-based economy programme to find social and solidarity-based strategies in order to enable men and, especially, women in the trade union movement to adequately defend their rights.

Women’s contribution to economic growth and employment is not insignificant either. Women represent more than 50% of the population and 56% of the African labour force and play an important economic role on the continent.

However, there are many challenges which prevent developing countries from adequately taking advantage of women’s economic potential. There is no need demonstrating African women’s dynamism and legendary entrepreneurial spirit. Nevertheless, they are still facing barriers including socio-cultural impediments, inadequate access to the factors of production - including land and adequate funding - illiteracy, all forms of violence, low educational level compared to men, ignorance of their rights, the fear of making demands and low access to strategic information and decision-making posts.

We take this opportunity to call to mind all trade union activists who have worked hard in Africa to improve women’s working and living conditions.

As African trade union movement, we call to mind all the women and young girls who are the victims of violence and political crises all over the world, as well as the abused and broken women who continue struggling to survive with their families while suffering abuses in their workplaces and in daily life.

We call to mind the women who are stressed and anxious about the future of their families while they continue fighting for their economic and social freedom.

We call to mind the women who are suffering as well as the women and young girls facing the horrors of war … the women in the Central African Republic are leading a hand-to-mouth existence, are experiencing atrocities and are anxious about the future of their families.

The International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to assess the progress made so far, to call for changes and to celebrate the courageous and brave actions carried out by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of Africa. We must work together to enable women to fully make their contribution to the economic development of Africa.

On this occasion, ITUC-Africa urges all its affiliates to commit themselves to continuously strengthen their institutional and organizational mechanisms to support women and young girls. African trade unions should also promote women’s education to ensure their empowerment through specific programmes meant to build the capacity of African women trade unionists.

Long live women! Long live the African trade union movement! Long live the international trade union movement! Long live women workers!

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ITUC AFRICA