#WomenSpeak: Gender equality in jobs and wages

My name is Mpume Nkosi. I am a machine operator at Detpak in South Africa. I represent the CEPPWAWU where I am a shop steward, a young workers’ coordinator and member of the gender committee. I am 30 years old and a mother of three. I enjoy reading and helping other people.

I've been employed in the industry since 2011. I joined the union in 2014 and was voted as shop steward. I agreed to take on the task after seeing how my fellow workers, especially women, are being treated.

One of the biggest challenges we face as women workers is equality in jobs and wages. As trade unionists, we help address this problem by persuading our company management to make sure that all jobs are justly graded to avoid discrimination and favouritism in employment and salaries.  

Strategically, we fight for an equal and better future for all by guaranteeing equal opportunities for all workers regardless of gender. This is especially important in the context of COVID-19. Women workers are some of the most vulnerable sectors to the pandemic. Not only are women workers more exposed to COVID-19, they are also victims of the rapid rise of gender-based violence and discrimination both in workplaces and homes. As women at work, we need to support each other and collectively fight for our labour and gender rights.

*#WomenSpeak is a monthly article on gender issues and concerns authored by BWI’s different affiliate women workers. It seeks to provide women workers more spaces and platforms to express their thoughts and concerns on a variety of issues that are important to them as workers and most especially, as women.