|Gaza unionists pledge to take action for improving women’s representation in union leaderships|
|Gaza unionists called for modifying the internal statutes of trade unions in order to guarantee a female representation quota that matches women’s affiliation rate. They also stressed the urgency of working on a data-base for the number of working women and trade union affiliates. These demands were formulated during a workshop organized by the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine in its Gaza office on September 30, 2013, attended by female and male trade union representatives, human rights and labor activists. The workshop was opened by Adv. Ali Al-Jerjawi, who expressed his hope that it will reflect a new vision about women’s representation in trade unions, and will form the basis for improving women’s presence in elected administrative committees.|
Nidal Ghaben, DWRC’s Gaza coordinator, spoke about the Center’s vision for improving women’s representation in governing bodies of trade unions, indicating that their insufficient representation counts among the many issues that the trade union movement is facing. He attributed its causes to the fact that the society remains male-dominated, and that there are unions, where women are not represented at all due to gender-based segregation of occupations. Thus, he cited the example of the construction sector, which employs almost exclusively men, adding: “What is required today is that we look at the real size of women’s participation in the labor market, and that we ensure a female representation rate in union leadership that reflects this size, so that their rights may be adequately defended and we put an end to discriminations.”
Mrs. Samira Abdel-Halim, the head of the women’s department at the General Federation of Trade Unions, mentioned that everything is connected in the Palestinian context and that the political, social and economic situation affects women’s representation in the governing bodies of trade unions. She also indicated that women’s lack job security due to current circumstances, poverty, occupation and the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, is another factor that hampers their ability to obtain representation in the highest leadership bodies. She urged the society as a whole to adopt a new policy that would raise women’s status in the society, which in turn would reflect positively on their representation in trade union leadership
During the discussion that followed, workshop participants unanimously agreed on the necessity to review all regulations and legislation related to women’s representation. They also recommended that everyone promptly takes the initiative of re-organizing union activities, so that they target female grassroots members and contribute in restoring the lost confidence between members and union leaderships, with the goal of guaranteeing true representation of women in higher governing bodies. They added that focus should be placed on giving them an effective media role, and highlighting issues related to women’s participation in trade unions and its importance for advancing women’s rights in general. Participants thanked DWRC for highlighting these issues, which concerns every Palestinian and not women alone, whereas the Center praised the audience for their lively participation and for coming up with practical recommendations that will allow achieving better representation of women workers in trade union leaderships.