Women at the heart of change in Europe
Women trade unionists vowed to be at the heart of change in Europa at the 5th UNI Europa Women’s Conference in Rome
The UNI Europa Women’s Conference took place in Rome with hundreds of UNI affiliates from across the continent gathering to debate issues such as the gender pay gap, gender discrimination, violence against women, and women in sport. Over 250 delegates from 81 unions and 28 countries participated in the 5th UNI Europa Women’s Conference.
Head of UNI Equal Opportunities Veronica Fernandez-Mendes said, “We are going to have women at the heart of change – by growing unions, bargaining power and quality jobs for a better society!”
UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig said, “The future of work needs a high-skilled workforce, and we need both men and women working together to achieve a fairer society.”
Equal work for equal pay – this was the demand of union leaders as the UNI Europa Women’s Conference grappled with issues of gender equality in Rome.
The conference also focused on the topic of violence against women, with Ivana Veronese from UILTUCS criticising the media-led culture of oppression of women both in the public and private spheres.
In a lively debate on gender equality in sport, Director of the Hellenic Professional Volleyball Players Associations, Vasilis Minoudis, UNI Europa’s Amel Djemail and President of Futsal Association Nathalia Orive discussed the shortcomings of the international sporting system.
Sofia Kanta from OTOE in Greece addressed Europe’s refugee crisis, telling the Women’s Conference, “No one decides to undertake such a difficult and dangerous journey unless they are really desperate and scared. We need to respond to the refugee crisis with compassion, humanity and solidarity.”
UNI World Women’s President, Denise McGuire, said she would take the message of the women’s profound concerns to the UNI Europa Regional Conference and ask all affiliates to open their wallets and their hearts to the refugees who are suffering through no fault of their own.
The issues facing hairdressers on a European scale were also addressed with the conference adopting a motion to support UNI Europa’s campaign against the European Commission.
Finally, in a powerful speech on equal pay and equal rights Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union, Christy Hoffman asked, “How do we as women leaders leave the world a better place for those who follow us? Union women are the luckiest women alive – together we can put women at the heart of change!”
The conference was also a digital success with hundreds of people engaging in the discussion on social media.