Advancing gender equality in the trade union movement and elsewhere is integral to ITUC-Asia Pacific's mission of ending inequalities and promoting inclusive, resilient, and vibrant trade unionism in the region.
In support of this goal, ITUC-Asia Pacific implemented and sustained targeted programs and initiatives, including in cooperation with allies and partners, to improve the conditions and build the leadership capacity of women and youth at work and within the trade union movement.
For example, women and young trade unionists in Southeast Asia successfully pushed for demands that are beyond what they thought was possible during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic and became role models for the next generation of trade union leaders. Through their actions, they led by example and made a difference to the lives and conditions of other women and youth and their families. This was while they continued to open and facilitate the space for peers and other women and youth to discover their leadership potential.
The leadership journey of women and youth was inspiring, fulfilling, and re-energising. Looking at their progress thus far, the future of the trade union movement is bright and promising.
Through the “Strengthening Women and Youth Leadership Within the Trade Union Movement for Decent Work in Southeast Asia (2019-2021)” Project, ITUC-Asia Pacific with the support from DGB Bildungswerk BUND, and in cooperation with the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC), provided direct support to affiliates towards facilitating the growth and development of women/youth as future leaders. Implemented over three years, the project contributed to strengthening women and youth representation in leadership, decision, and policymaking bodies within the trade union movement (internal) as well as to mainstreaming women/youth concerns in union activities, operations, and elsewhere (external).
The new way to go (WaY2Go) – harnessing the potentials and dynamism of the youth and women with a sense of urgency – has led to remarkable and concrete progress – all in the shadow of COVID-19. The project saw some 35 women and youth representatives in action – such as in securing collective agreements with ILO C190 provisions and improving gender and youth policies, laws, and regulations – while progressively taking charge and transitioning to leadership roles.
The Project culminated in a three-day virtual women and youth camp, a moment to celebrate shared achievements and recognise how far women and youth have come in their leadership journey.
At the end of the women and youth camp, the song and music video, Equality for You and Me. This song was a collaborative production inspired by the struggles and demands of women and young workers.
Looking back over the three-year project journey, the following video reminisces the rich and varied experiences and progress that the ITUC-Asia Pacific and the women and young trade unionists have made while navigating the darker, stormier COVID-days.
Building on the achievements of the earlier Project, the ITUC-Asia Pacific embarks on another three-year initiative focusing on accelerating women and young trade unionists’ leadership (in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines) in improving the policies, procedures, and structures concerning women and youth and ultimately, in improving the working conditions of women and youth.
In implementing this project that is designed to accelerate “Active engagement in leadership representation and social dialogues of young and female trade unionists in Southeast Asia”, the ITUC-Asia Pacific will adopt a two-pronged strategy as follows:
In the next three years, the Project will monitor the progress of their leadership journey through a dedicated online mentorship platform, quarterly feedback sessions, and periodic onsite monitoring visits.
With the combination of affiliates' mentorship program and mentee-mentor collaboration, women and young trade unionists will be guided in negotiating with their union leadership and company representatives and representing their organisations in advocating with relevant government agencies on specific youth and gender concerns.
Mentorship stories about successful interventions and good practices among participating affiliates will be collected and developed into an easily accessible format to inspire and guide replication in other contexts.