Thursday, March 09, 2017

COSATU Statement on Internattional Women's Day 8 March 2017
COSATU marks the commemoration of this International Women's Day at a time, when we in COSATU have labeled 2017 as “The Year of Advancing Working Class Women”. It also takes place during a period, when we wait with baited breath for the United Nations Commission on Status of Women 61st sessions (UNCSW61) 2017 outcomes, where women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work is high on the agenda.

As COSATU, we have high expectations that women all over the world will be better integrated into the global economy. For this to happen, we expect that the global economy and country economies respond to the needs of the people and that they move away from only prioritizing the needs of big business. We need a global shift in the macro-economic priorities and budget priorities to accommodate the citizens of the world.
According to the World Economic Forum ,the economic gender gap this year has reverted back to where it stood in 2008, after a peak in 2013; only 59% of the economic participation gap has been closed—a continued reversal on several years of progress and the lowest value measured by the Index since 2008.

In order to address this, we expect that the global economies to look and priorities' the needs of the poorest communities and women and children in particular. We expect that our economies will be refocused on economic redistributive measures that seek to ensure that the poor, who are mostly women, are empowered to access decent jobs and to live decent lives with decent benefits and comprehensive social security nets. We expect that economic policies across the globe respond to the plight of women and the poor and create sustainable economies and sustainable communities, where the natural resources and the financial outcomes of labour are shared with communities and the working class and not monopolised by big business.

Closer to home ,COSATU is calling on government and business to heed the call of working class women for the ratification of the ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection. This convention will provide for the protection of many working women who are excluded from the coverage by current maternity leave arrangements. It will also contribute towards our development goals of ensuring that children and people are properly cared for and fed from the womb. We also call for the protection of the majority women, who are employed through casual, labour-broking and externalized arrangements, where they continue to earn slave wages and are cut off from decent working conditions.

We call on government  to put money where their mouth is and ensure that gender equality is made a reality by eliminating poverty, whose face is the face of a black woman in South Africa; to eliminate workplaces where women are locked into their workplaces overnight; to eliminate workplaces where women are strip-searched and humiliated. Government should work to eliminate Gender Based Violence; eliminate maternal and infant deaths in our country; including eliminating the trafficking of women and the “ukuthwala” custom.

The society as a whole needs to work together to eliminate the phenomenon of super-exploitation of young working class women by old rich men; and push government to abandon the discredited Traditional Courts Bill process, which is taking us backwards; but also push for the introduction of stiffer  sentences for any type of sexual violence, including sexual harassment in the workplace. All social institutions need to implement the Employment Equity Act comprehensively, including providing training for the trade union movement to play a meaningful role in the implementation of all labour legislation.
The Year of Advancing Working Class Women must yield tangible results, even for working class women and all poor women in the townships and rural areas
Issued by COSATU

Gertrude Mtsweni (Gender Co-ordinator)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 / Direct: 010 219 1322|+27 82 829 2966|E-mail:
 Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794

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