Education International
Education International

Latin America: Equal rights in the world of work

published 3 December 2015 updated 7 December 2015

The Latin America Women’s Workers’ Network brought together more than 250 people from 15 countries at the 3rd Regional Meeting Towards a Latin America Education Movement held in San José on 30 November and 1 December.

Held on the tenth anniversary of work by the women’s network, this regional meeting endeavoured to delve more deeply into the Network’s concept and proposal as a strategy to strengthen trade unionism, discuss the capacity of trade unions to influence general policy and education policies for equality, and to reflect on the Network’s challenges and strategy in the future.

Following up on the work carried out by the Network since the last meeting held in 2013 in Recife, Brazil, the talks in Costa Rica broached the following issues in particular: double shift, unequal pay, reproduction rights and the right of women to decide, secular education, the results of the electoral processes and their impact on public policies in the region.

Combating gender-related violence

The opening ceremony was attended by Alejandra Mora, Minister for the Condition of women in Costa Rica. The female members of ANDE and SEC in Costa Rica welcomed the participants in their capacity as hosts. The cooperating organisations UEN (Norway), NEA (United States) and Lärarförbundet (Sweden) extended greetings also.

Roberto Franklin de Leão (CNTE Brazil), vice-president of EI, stated: “Cultural tradition cannot justify nor excuse gender-related violence. The struggle for a better world in Latin America faces challenges: a macho and prejudiced society. Our struggle for quality education for all, for a secular state, means that we, as men, must understand that the world will be decent only if there is equal respect for men and women.”

“A precondition to liberating education is the recognition of the role of women with new focus on  implementing the necessary changes.  No policies can be charted without the viewpoint of women.  The Women’s Network helps to make political involvement in our trade unions a success,” Leão concluded.

The panel “Rule of law and political involvement of women in Central America” heard contributions from Ciska Raventós, a sociologist and researcher at the Institute of Social Research of the University of Costa Rica, and Silvia Mesa, from the Centre for Research in Women’s Studies. In like manner, six trade unionists specialising in gender matters in Latin America shared their experiences and assessed the impact in the public sphere. The panel concluded that the main tool for advancing consultation in gender policies has been training.

Outstanding challenges

The regional meeting of the women’s network commenced yesterday, Monday, was brought to a close today Tuesday, with the presentation of the results of the assessment experience of 10 years of the Network’s progress by UBORA.

The group discussions included the Challenges for the Network as a regional and national structure:  structure, methodologies and financing of meetings; Training methodologies; South-South cooperation; Challenges of the network as trade union strategy; incorporation and/or exploration of themes, alliances and articulation.

The results of the research studies presented, including the experiment of Gabriela Bonilla, IEAL consultant, included successes and setbacks. “There are trade unions that do not have women in leading positions. We have to review the practice, for it is in our organisations that we build equality for women. Women must be included in leading positions in trade unions as a concrete step so as to bring about the change pursuant to the Gender Equality Action Plan (GEA),” said Fátima da Silva, vice-president of IEAL.