End the multiple crises! Fight for and win a gender-equal future!
The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) marks this year’s celebration of the International Women’s Day by drawing attention to the plight of women workers, especially those caught in the middle of multiple crises and conflicts, and our collective aspiration to build a better future where gender equality is one of the cornerstones of a real democracy.
History has taught us that whenever there is a crisis or social conflict, it is always the women who bear the heaviest burdens of these catastrophes. From the COVID-19 pandemic up to the authoritarian attacks in Myanmar and Ukraine, working women are one of the most vulnerable sectors to disease, joblessness, abuse and violence. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, authoritarianism and military conflicts have further deepened gender inequality and worsened the violence against women. Understanding the gendered impacts of these crises is crucial to shaping our most effective, efficient, and fair responses – both now and after.
However, even before these recent cataclysmic events, women are already right at the center of several long and unresolved crises: gender inequality and gender-based violence. Despite the historical victories won by women to advance their rights and interests, many women are still being raped, harassed, objectified, persecuted and discriminated against. In humanitarian settings, a staggering 70 percent of women are likely to experience gender-based violence. In the world of work, women workers are the last to be hired and the first ones to be fired. They earn lesser than men despite doing the same work. And they are victims of abuse and violence at workplaces, and even at their very homes.
Now more than ever, trade unions must join hands with different women advocates and movements to defeat gender oppression, violence and inequality. We must dismantle sexism and misogyny’s structural and cultural roots if we are to win a future where everyone, regardless of gender, can equitably enjoy the promised wealth and prosperity of our respective societies.
Thus, BWI calls on its affiliates to fight for more and better work opportunities for women workers in the building and construction sector and the wood and forestry sector, and guarantee equal pay for equal work. We also demand gender equity to vocational training and professional skills development, and safer and healthier workplaces.
BWI is also pushing for a pandemic recovery program that puts the principle of gender equality at the front and center of an inclusive, participatory and empowering recovery paradigm. Given that women have been one of the hardest hit by the global health crisis, it is only fair that they should be prioritised in recovery efforts.
Moreover, BWI reiterates its call to the United Nations (UN) to recognise Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) and reject the military junta. We also call on the international community to strengthen its voice in strong opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lastly, BWI continues to be committed to the elimination of gender-based violence in the world of work. We call for more country ratifications of ILO Convention No. 190 to help end the violence and harassment suffered by women workers at workplaces. This is a focal point for women workers to organise themselves to obtain legislative and workplace justice.
Working women of the world, unite! Fight for a gender-equal future! #