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2nd UNI World Women's Conference-Draft Conclusions and Action Points


2nd UNI World Women's Conference

Chicago, USA:20-21 August 2005

Women's Work:Organizing the Future

Draft Conclusions and Action Points

Current economic policies are failing working women. Globalization`s promises have proven empty to many in the developing countries. It has deepened the divide between the developed and the developing nations and exposed the latter to ever increasing levels of scarcity and disease, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It has meant increased marginalization, exploitation and hardship for millions of women in

Africa, the Americas and Asia. The feminization of poverty, along with such related scourges as the increase of trafficking in women and children, represent the dark side of the global economy.

Even in the economically advanced nations, women workers are among those who are most likely to suffer from the negative impacts of globalization and its impact on working life. It is to a significant extent their jobs that are increasingly being cut, contracted out or outsourced to lower-wage regions or countries, not only in the manufacturing sector but also in UNI sectors such as telecommunications, finance, graphical and other service industries.

Discrimination is still a common problem in the workplace as in society as a whole. While some of the more blatant forms of discrimination may have faded, many remain, and others have taken on new or less visible forms, the 2003 ILO report entitled 'Time for Equality at Work' said. "More recently, new forms of discrimination based on disability, HIV/AIDS, age or sexual orientation have become cause for growing

concern. Women are by far the largest discriminated group."

The recently published study of the World Economic Forum entitled Women's Empowerment, measuring economic participation, economic opportunities, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and well-being in 30 OECD countries and 28 other emerging markets, also found that the "Global Gender Gap" persists; though some have managed to narrowing it, others lag far behind.

While more and more women are economically active, much remains to be done to end gender inequalities. In addition to the "glass ceiling", the "pay gap" between women and men is still significant in most countries. Women are also more likely than men to be found in the lower-paid and least secure jobs. Unemployment rates have almost always been higher for women than men. Inequalities remain in

terms of pay, hierarchy and promotion. People who suffer several forms of discrimination tend to be over-represented among the poor and in the informal economy. Within these groups women are even more severely affected.

So far, outlawing discrimination at work has failed to eliminate the practice. Laws banning discrimination are an indispensable, but insufficient, step. Effective enforcement institutions, positive action, unbiased education, training and employment services, and data to monitor progress, are also necessary. This mix

of policies and instruments is essential whatever the form of discrimination.

It is important to ensure that women benefit from their entry into the world of work, through the existence of a properly regulated employment market with a decent wage, equal pay laws that are diligently enforced and proper social protection.

Draft Conclusions and Action Points

2nd UNI World Women's Conference

2 - Decent work is central to translating growth into less poverty and social equity. Poverty and decent work agenda must therefore address gender discrimination and exclusion in all spheres as they interact to limit women's opportunities. Poverty can be traced to unemployment as well as certain types and patterns of work, and to exclusion from rights and opportunities for decent work. Gender is one major determinant of rights, access and patterns of productive work.

Even in the most advanced societies concerning gender equality, women are far from having achieved equal pay and equal opportunities. Precarious, low-paid and unprotected work is widespread, including in the industries covered by UNI, particularly in commerce, cleaning, call centers etc. Also, there are still only a few women in leading positions, even in countries and organizations in the forefront of the fight for gender equality. These gender inequalities will persist or even be reinforced unless proper policy measures are implemented.

Unionized workers are usually faring better than unorganized ones. Unions are endeavoring to respond to the challenges of gender discrimination and injustice in the world of work. Organizing women into unions therefore remains paramount to contributing to improve the situation of women workers both in the formal and informal economy.

Women are increasingly susceptible to HIV/AIDS and other major diseases. Around the globe, the face of AIDS is increasingly young and female. According to the latest UNAIDS report, nearly 20 million women worldwide are now living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 60% of those infected are women - and three out of four young people with HIV are girls. In Latin America and the Caribbean, girls are nearly twice as likely as boys to become infected with HIV. And the fastest growing ncreases in

women living with AIDS in the world are now found in East Asia and Eastern Europe.

A striking feature of the epidemic is that it affects women and men differently in terms of vulnerability and impact. There are biological factors which make women more vulnerable to infection than men, and structural inequalities in the status of women that make it harder for them to take measures to prevent infection, and also intensify the impact of AIDS on them.

In all regions of the world, women are getting infected not only because they lack information, but because they lack the power to keep themselves safe. If more women and girls had the "right to say no"; to decide when and with whom they have sex; to negotiate condom use; to live their lives free from oppression and violence; to earn incomes adequate to feed their families - their ability to protect themselves from HIV would be real. Far too often, however, they don't.

Informal economy workers are especially vulnerable to the consequences of HIV/AIDS:they lack health facilities and social protection arrangements at work, and their activities depend heavily on their own labor and rarely lead to financial security. Informal workers can easily lose their precarious livelihoods when they are infected or forced to withdraw from work to care for family members.

The struggle to make meaningful progress on ending violence against women is also a prerequisite to gender equality and women's empowerment. Sexual violence is a public health problem and a violation of human rights. It occurs worldwide and has a profound impact on physical, mental and social well-being both immediately and in the long-term.

UNI and its affiliates want to contribute to building respect for lives of women and girls and an understanding that the dignity of women and girls is an integral part of all cultures.

Participants in the UNI Women's Conference therefore reaffirm their commitment to:

Draft Conclusions and Action Points

2nd UNI World Women's Conference

3 - Establish equal treatment and opportunities for women in all areas of private, professional and

public life.

- Promote global policies contributing to equal rights and opportunities for women and men (whatever their country, status, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or other self-defining characteristics).

- Improve women's participation on the labor market with full time and better quality jobs and, with the commitment of governments and social partners to significantly reduce the gaps between men and women as to employment, rates of nemployment and remuneration.

- Campaign together with other Global Unions for the ratification and effective implementation of international instruments, in particular ILO Convention Nos. 100, 111, 156, 175, 177 and 183 and the Beijing Platform for Action; and ensure adoption of international instruments to further promote equality for women workers.

- Organize women workers, especially those working in the new workplaces, the young and the most vulnerable ones such as migrants, workers with precarious jobs and in the informal economy.

- Establish and strengthen UNI networks for women within and between regions.

- Continue supporting and training women by providing information on international labor standards and collective bargaining skills as well as use of IT technologies.

- Monitor legislation, social policy and the bargaining agenda to ensure real change in negotiating and pay determination practices.

- Safeguard the principle of collective bargaining and social dialogue which are efficient tools to secure improvements of working conditions, application of equality legislation in the field of pay, training and non discrimination.

- Train union officials and negotiators in gender equality awareness.

- Get involved in the collective bargaining process within local unions to ensure women's issues are on the table and ensure that women are represented in proportion to their membership in negotiation panels/teams.

- Combat discriminatory practices in hiring and access to further training which are linked to stereotypes which still too often lead employers to prefer recruiting and promoting men.

- Make sure that protective measures such as those linked to pregnancy and maternity are not used to the detriment of women.

- Build respect for lives of women and girls and an understanding that the integrity and dignity of women and girls is an integral part of all cultures.

- Guarantee respecting the dignity of women at work by protecting them against all forms of violence (sexual and moral harassment, aggressiveness, etc) and negotiating appropriate policies with the employers.

- Combat social precariousness of work and health.

- Promote and secure or formalise integration of issues concerning women and equal opportunities in all national, regional and sectoral policies and activities.

- Continue the fight against violence as well as HIV/AIDS.

- Addressing and eliminating the multiple forms of violence that women and girls face, including genital mutilation, whether in time of peace or in war, has to remain a high priority for UNI.

- Engage in achieving self-determination for women. To put an end to women's oppression, they must be able to make independent decisions about their bodies and their lives, without bowing to pressure.

Draft Conclusions and Action Points

2nd UNI World Women's Conference

4 - To forward these objectives, the following plan will be implemented:

Equal pay and opportunities must become reality, with UNI and its affiliates:

- Calling for creating and sustaining decent jobs for women.

- Demanding increased education and training opportunities for girls and women.

- Taking up the challenge of transforming women's conditions of access to and integration into the labor market with the permanent objective of equality and justice.

- Stepping up efforts to organizing women in their industries, both in the formal and the informal economy, especially in receiving countries of outsourced work and the new types of workplaces and jobs such as in the customer services.

- Supporting efforts for global agreements by sharing information with UNI regarding local issues.

- Supporting UNI's efforts to combat discrimination at all levels - race, age, sex, xenophobia - through local union contract negotiations and enforcement.

- Engaging in actions aiming at governments, companies and unions giving priority to reducing the earning gaps between men and women.

- Pressing for equal pay for work of equal value to ensure that not only women doing the same work as men get equal pay, but that both the social partners and society giver higher value to skills traditionally associated with women, such as giving higher value to private and public service related jobs, retail jobs, etc.

- Opposing discrimination at all levels, from recruitment to promotion, and supporting affirmative action to attract women into jobs where they are traditionally under-represented.

- Negotiating equality programs with employers with realistic and measurable goals, a specific time frame and regular monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

- Requesting measures for reconciliation of work and private life to remove the long hours' culture and promote the sharing of leave for caring responsibilities between women and men.

- Negotiating for vocational training to be provided flexibly to remove job segregation and encourage women into non-traditional jobs and higher level jobs.

- Demanding compulsory pay audits and action plans to remove any discriminatory practices that reduce women's pay, including issues that may not always be covered by collective bargaining.

- Calling for transparency in pay systems and compulsory disclosure of pay data.

- Contributing to the production of a guide and/or booklet to assist all union representatives in assessing job content objectively.

- Opposing compulsory part-time working and promoting rights to voluntary flexible working patterns that benefit careers.

- Securing equality proof collective bargaining agendas to ensure that none of the items on the agenda disadvantage women and to ensure items of specific concern to women are included.

- Insisting on employment for temporary/agency workers to avoid their use as cheap labor and to ensure outsourced workers have the right to take part in collective bargaining; agencies to be required to implement equal opportunities.

- Sharing of information and best practice on equal opportunities and pay.

Draft Conclusions and Action Points

2nd UNI World Women's Conference

5 - Informal economy workers and women with precarious jobs must be recognised and protected:

UNI and affiliates to:

- Campaign with other relevant organisations for informal work to be brought into legal economy and institutions.

- Press governments to enact or extend labor legislation so as to afford recognition and social security coverage, including maternity protection and pensions, to all workers both in the formal and informal economy.

- Secure trade union rights (freedom of association and right to collective bargaining) for all workers, regardless of their status.

- Carry out campaigns in cooperation with other organisations to promote the ratification of UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and the International Labour Convention No 143 and Recommendation 151 concerning Migrant Workers.

- Lobby for occupational health and safety regulations to be extended to all workers and to take account of the gender differences.

- Press for equal pay and opportunities principles (above) to be applied to women with precarious jobs and in the informal economy just as for stable employment in the formal sectors.

HIV/AIDS and Violence against women must be prevented and fought:

UNI and affiliates will:

- Integrate occupational health issues in a global strategy of change of working conditions.

- Participate in efforts to address the special needs of women for gender equity and women's empowerment in order to begin to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic and combat violence.

- Join initiatives aimed at removing existing cultural barriers, ignorance, oppression and gender inequality, as well as the economic burdens which are placed upon women because of HIV/AIDS.

- Recognise health at work, including access to HIV/AIDS treatment and an environment free of violence, as a priority for negotiations.

- Ask for gender dimension to be taken into account when evaluating the health hazards, including those due to the double burden of women and to develop preventive measures.

- Continue campaigning to "Stop violence" against women and girls in line with the UNI policy as freedom from violence and sexual coercion is essential to both psychological and physical security as well as reduced vulnerability to HIV infection.

Gender Equality @ UNI

Finally, the .....women activists of ..... affiliates from......countries meeting on 20 and 21 August 2005 for the 2nd UNI World Women's Conference call again on affiliated trade unions to ensure full participation and the presence of more women in decision-making bodies and bargaining teams for better defending their interests, and to ensure a systematic integration of the gender dimension in all union policies.

They also urge UNI (and its sectoral global unions) to continue pushing and working for a real improvement in the integration of women in its activities and their representation in proportion to their membership at all levels, in line with the plan of action "Gender Equality @ UNI", and for the Executive Board to be responsible for implementation of these policies.

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