Women in trades: Trading experiences and stories of struggle

On 25 October, women in trades from Pan European countries, North America, Australia, Africa-MENA and Latin America shared their experiences and stories of struggle in an ‘Interregional exchange” organised by BWI. 

The event had two 45-minute exchange sessions wherein participants shared with one another experiences and valuable lessons which are unique to them as women workers, and ways to gain more access to trades training and better employment. This provided unions and women workers an opportunity to network with one another and build solidarity linkages. 

A strategic session on building sustainable future for women in construction followed shortly after. It concluded with a presentation of BWI’s twin campaigns on women in trades and against “macho culture.” 

The exchange focused on key issues affecting construction tradeswomen and the role trade unions play in improving their lives. Initiatives to encourage more women in trades to join unions and ensure their institutionalized participation and representation in union leadership posts were also discussed. 

During the exchanges, the participants identified problematic countries that brought in “unskilled women workers” who are exploited and abused. These women workers are victims of casual labour arrangements, low wages for hard manual labour, and workplace harassment and discrimination. 

However, unions also shared how workers in developed countries are piloting several programs to develop the professional skills of women in the construction sector. The participants said that these programs contribute to generating “green jobs” and the “just transition” towards a more climate-friendly development paradigm. 

BWI International Women’s Committee Chair Rita Schiavi lauded the activity. “This exchange format helps us, not only to discuss challenges, but also, to identify opportunities to overcome these challenges. We will definitely organise more exchange meetings and bring more women to our network.”