Latin America: Women’s network reaffirms fight against discrimination

published 6 December 2019 updated 31 January 2020

The Education International Latin America (EILA) Network of Women Education Workers held its regional meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, on 2 and 3 December. Representatives of Latin American trade union organizations affiliated to EILA met to discuss the regional situation and the political role of women.

The declaration on security and respect approved at the Education International (EI) World Congress was presented at the meeting. This declaration is a response to the harassment suffered by women every day and, by order of the EI World Congress, it must be read or distributed among people taking part in events held by the worldwide federation of teachers. The women present at the event applauded the implementation of this measure, intended to provide safe spaces for all people.

Eliana Santos, a sociology teacher from the Paraná state education network, reviewed the scope and achievements of feminist movements in Latin America, and Gabriela Sancho, the EILA Regional Coordinator, who runs the network, continued with a presentation giving statistics on the progress made and unresolved gender issues in the region. She also provided figures concerning education and the involvement of girls and young women in schools, colleges and universities. Sancho pointed out that the Central American subregion continues to show less favourable figures for the situation of women.

Women’s participation

Sonia Alesso, secretary general of CTERA, set out the main resolutions of the IE World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, and indicated the responsibilities that must be taken by the affiliated organisations. “A lot of work needs to be done to increase women’s participation in trade unions,” said Alesso, pointing out that everyone must work together to achieve this.

Alesso stressed that Latin America was the region with the least participation by women in the World Congress in 2019. However, women are increasingly active in training organized by the network and by trade unions. Alesso expressed his hope that the next World Congress to be held in Argentina would have more female participation. Education International’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2023 states that every organization affiliated to EI should try to accept it, emphasizing three priorities:

  • promoting women’s participation and leadership in trade unions,

  • increasing gender equality in organizations, and the economic empowerment of women,

  • taking into account the need to incorporate it into a gender equality policy within the trade union organization.

Ratifying C190

The ratification of ILO Convention 190, concerning violence and harassment at work, by Latin American countries is a priority for the EILA. At the beginning of 2020, EILA will undertake an information and action campaign together with its affiliated organizations to promote the ratification of Convention 190 (C190) and Recommendation 206 (R206), approved last June at the ILO’s centenary conference. The participants in the meeting joined in with the campaign, with photos showing support.