UNI Africa Women: innovating across the continent through dynamic and vibrant trade unions
Over 100 women from across the African continent gathered in Dakar for the 4th UNI Africa Women’s Conference. Violence against women, the gender pay gap and the participation of women in trade union structures were all challenges that were tackled at the Conference.
According to a UNDP report, the gender pay gap costs 95 billion dollars a year and women in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to face persistent challenges to get decent jobs.
“Closing the gender pay gap is not just the right thing to do, it is fundamental to sustainable development in Africa,” said Head of UNI Equal Opportunities Veronica Fernandez Mendez. “Women on average earn 23 % less than men, and that is why we must fight back to end wage injustice.”
“Excluding women from leadership structures means missing out on 50 % of the talent, intelligence and creativity of the people.”
On the subject of gender violence and harassment, UNI Deputy General Secretary Christy Hoffman said, “There is no excuse, no justification - we must stop violence against women. In this day and age, we cannot accept that sexual harassment at work and violence against women is still happening.”
With a convention on violence against women and men in the world of work inching closer, UNI World Women’s President Denise McGuire called for action, “We need a binding agreement at the ILO level on violence in the workplace,” urged McGuire. “We urge all UNI affiliates to lobby their governments and employers and encourage government funding for this initiative.”
“Organise, mobilise and innovate. Let’s go forward together for a new Africa and forward for an ILO convention on violence in the workplace.”
The conference also featured an inspring speech from the General Secretary of the banking union in Botswana, Lebogang Keabetswe. “I am the youngest GS in the history of my country. We have had great successes in the last few years and proves that women in leadership positions are the future of trade unions.”
“When women support each other, nothing is impossible,” said Keabetswe.
Patricia Nyman was unanimously elected as the next president of UNI Africa Women to the delight of the UNI Africa Women’s conference. “We will build on the foundations laid by the former President Louisa, and the fantastic work of Veronica Fernandez Mendez and Denise McGuire,” said Nyman after a joyous and emphatic welcoming of her election.
“Together, we will achieve our goals – together, we will make it happen!”