On the 4th of September, 2014, ANSA, with the support of FOS Belgium, succeeded to facilitate a meeting for the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council (SATUCC)’s Women’s Committee. It had been a while since the committee has been convened. There was a lot of enthusiasm and a refreshing optimism about the future. This is despite past and present challenges faced by women in trade unions in the region. Women’s empowerment issues in unions in the South, remain under resourced with little, if any, meaningful influence over key decision making structures and outcomes – in both workplaces and in trade unions. Support from cooperating partners has dwindled significantly over the past five years, with other more ‘fashionable’ or ‘quicker result’ programme areas taking precedence. However, this is not to say that nothing has changed in the lives of women in trade unions.
Today, more women in trade unions are taking bolder steps in leadership and actively participating in electoral processes. With many making remarkable leaders and living behind true legacies in both the union and the workplace. The overall environment has become a little less hostile to female trade unionists as compared to a few decades before. However, irrespective of these noteworthy milestones, women formations in the workplace and in trade unions remain generally weak, with some losing previous ground gained. It is thus not surprising that the SATUCC Women’s Committee agreed on a 2 year project to revitalize the committee and center more attention on leadership development. The project will focus on (i) SATUCC women leadership development, (ii) constitutional reform, and (iii) the construction of a SATUCC Gender Policy. The project is expected to move an active bid to engage and lobby existing SATUCC structures and platforms to create and strengthen women’s representation and participation in SATUCC.
To achieve this enormous task, a working group of 5 dynamic women with a wonderful fervor and rich trade union experience, has been established to drive the project over the next two years. The working group will be supported by the SATUCC Women Committee leadership and technical staff from the SATUCC and ANSA Secretariats.