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ITF acting general secretary Stephen Cotton warmly greeting almost 300 transport women from 80 countries on day two of the conference.
“The neo-liberal agenda has cut workers rights in the workplace and in legislation. Women and youth have been impacted the most as we see multi-nationals move from one jurisdiction to another in an attempt to make more profit at the cost of workers’ job security and dignity. We must tackle the short termism and sub contracting that has become the norm in various parts of the supply chain. “
He emphasised the importance of building unions through solid organising action plans: “We are building alliances with other GUFs, ITUC to move the organising agenda forward. To make sure companies are sustainable and sharing their profits with workers.”
He continued:“We need unions to change the way they think, organising for women is crucial for union strength. We need new, quality jobs for all. Building strength and capacity at national, regional and international level is the way forward.”
“The ITF belongs to you. Your voice is crucial. It must be loud and clear at congress. Women should fight for leadership, so you need to drive the agenda.”
Gender is not about the biological differences between women, men and intersex persons (i.e. people who combine male and female biological features). It is chiefly about the characteristics and roles that societies attribute to women and men respectively. Gender is not “natural” – it is constructed by societies. Violence is the deliberate use of force or power to hurt someone. Hence, gender-based violence is the use of power to enforce gender norms. For example, a husband might beat his wife because his society has brought him up to believe that men must “discipline” disobedient women. We envision a safe and just world where women and girls are in control of their lives and live free from violence. Violence against women must end, because: • It violates women’s and girls’ right to a life in safety. • It causes physical and psychological harm that reduces women’s and girls’ ability to lead a normal life, obtain the education they need, earn a living, develop their own future and participate in public life. Most survivors of violence against women do not get support in their efforts to overcome the consequences of violence. Dedicated psycho-social, health and legal services tend to be few and far between. Social norms often “blame the victim”, i.e.they hold survivors responsible for their ordeal. As a result, many survivors find themselves socially marginalized and debilitated by crippling health conditions such as chronic pain, severe injuries, or depression. • It deepens the unequal power relations between women and men, girls and boys. Violence against women, “one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men”, is an obstacle to gender justice. It keeps women and girls from shaping their own future and from contributing to wider social development. Apinya Tajit Thailand
ITF women transport workers are changing the face of the industry and their unions. They are working on ensuring there are more industry jobs for women, more women in leadership roles in their unions and safer workplaces. Conference delegates watched this film to hear from the women leading this struggle.
Fill out the questionnaire on women transport workers! The results will help the ITF Women’s Committee tailor efforts to provide affiliates with the best support possible for organising more women into unions and into active roles. Complete the online survey here >>
The conference theme document is introduced to the floor by ITF women's coordinator Alison McGarry.
'Global crisis to global justice: Women transport workers fighting back' is the proposal of ITF unions on the strategy for gender work over the next four years. ITF women will debate and identify priorities for the next congress period on day 2 of conference.
Check out the document for yourself and check back in live updates for more on this from the conference floor tomorrow.