Mentorship Champions: United in building an inclusive future for young and women trade unionists

Mar 2024
United Nations
Women, Youth

Centred on guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of initiatives, ITUC-Asia Pacific organised a pioneering Mentoring Champions Conference from 21-22 February 2024 in Manila, Philippines. This conference had the twin purpose of revisiting project milestones and reflecting on achievements while also empowering leaders to adopt the role of "Mentorship Champions." A critical aim of the conference was to formulate concrete plans aimed at sustaining progress well beyond the project's conclusion.

Lessons from the Philippines: Persistence is key

A dedicated panel session, facilitated by UK Worker's Rights Consultant Joe Sutcliffe, showcased Philippine unions’ experiences in playing strategic roles at the national level, navigating past and potential future challenges to sustainability, and implementing the mentoring program within their organisations.

The Philippine Mentorship Champions emphasised the crucial role of persistence and perseverance in overcoming obstacles. Their message was clear: perseverance is key to addressing sustainability challenges regardless of the level (i.e., individual or organisational) or approach (i.e., building strong mentor-mentee relationships or implementing union-level policies). They attributed their success to long-term dedication and unwavering commitment from their leaders and advocates. Their message was clear and powerful: "Don't give up."

Drawing from the experiences shared by the mentorship champions from the Philippines, the participants identified sustainability scenarios within their organisations. They engaged in brainstorming sessions to outline the central role of Mentorship Champions in shaping union operations, advocating for policies conducive to women and youth leadership, and establishing sustainable support mechanisms to nurture ongoing leadership among women and youth.

United in purpose

Despite challenges, the unwavering support from ITUC-Asia Pacific General Secretary Shoya Yoshida fostered confidence in the Champions' ability to navigate obstacles and ensure the project's legacy. Yoshida stated, "This gathering is exactly what our movement needs. We stand united, not as individuals, but as a powerful network dedicated to ensuring women and youth claim and keep their rightful place within our movement. This is just the beginning."

This year marks the three-year journey and the beginning of a 10-month countdown before the end of the ITUC-Asia Pacific/ Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) Baden-Württemberg (BW)/ASEAN Trade Union Confederation project on “Active Engagement in Leadership Representation and Social Dialogues of Young and Female Trade Unionists in Southeast Asia”. This project, which began in 2022 and will conclude this year, specifically focuses on nurturing a committed group of women and young trade union leaders (WYUs) from Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines through a carefully designed mentorship program.

Convened in Manila, Philippines, from February 21-22, 2024, this assembly brought together 25 (19 were women) trade union leaders and advocates from the project's three participating countries.

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