BWI International Women's Committee (IWC) President Rita Schiavi on the new meaning of solidarity

23 April 2020 17:49


BWI International Women's Committee (IWC) President Rita Schiavi on the new meaning of solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and her tribute to Jin Sook Lee, whom she described as a powerful activist and a good friend. 

(video script in EN)

Dear (female) colleagues all around the world,

This year, on the first of May, we will not be out on the streets and squares, celebrating our achievements as usual, so I am using this channel to send out my solidarity message to you.

Never before has solidarity proven its worth and importance more than today. Never before have people all over the world been simultaneously affected as severely as now by a crisis. A tiny virus is making all of us aware of the negative and positive aspects of globalisation alike. As (female) trade unionists, we live and breathe international solidarity. However, at this moment in time it is taking on a new meaning, for everyone.

In specific terms, trade unions have always understood solidarity to be: Solidarity of those who are strong with those who are weak, between young and old, old and young. This solidarity manifests itself mainly in a strong, well-developed welfare state, that our trade unions have been fighting for all around the globe for more than 100 years.

As women, we know that it is in particular women who rely on social solidarity, on a solid welfare state.

During this dreadful crisis we are now witnessing the importance of the welfare state, in every country. Despite everything, we hope that something good will emerge from this crisis: We hope that the majority of people around the world will realize that a high-quality health care system for all, health insurance, old-age pension schemes and loss-of-earnings insurance are essential for everyone, not only to save lives amidst a crisis like this one but also to safeguard the economic livelihood of us all.

Our fight for social justice will be ever more important after the Covid-19 pandemic, and it will require all of our strength. At the moment, what we need most is immediate solidarity with our friends and family, neighbours and our community who are affected most by this health and economic crisis. I am convinced, dear (female) colleagues, that you are currently showing extensive solidarity with the people around you that need your support, just as you have always shown in your fight for social justice.

Stay healthy, stay strong — because we need your power and strength.

In solidarity, our fight will continue!