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Gender & Equality
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The Solidarity Center empowers women workers to confront and challenge global systems that subject them to discrimination in the workplace.

The global economy is not working for working women. Women contribute 66 percent of the world’s work and produce 50 percent of the food. Yet they earn 10 percent of income and own 1 percent of property.  Millions of women live in poverty—they account for 70 percent of the world’s poor. Women also are highly likely to experience violence at home or at the workplace: Up to seven in 10 women globally will be beaten, raped abused or mutilated in their lifetimes.

Women have long represented the majority of teachers, health care workers and public-sector employees—services fundamental to people's well-being. Less recognized is the essential nature of their labor in the informal economy. Toiling as domestic workers and cart vendors, women are paid low incomes and have few rights, even as their labor makes up a significant portion of national economies. At the same time, women retain primary responsibility for the care and survival of their families. In the home, at the workplace and even within union structures, women everywhere face persistent and pervasive discrimination. Worker rights mean an end to such discrimination.

Through Solidarity Center programs, women are joining and leading unions, advocating for themselves and their families and standing up for the rights of all workers worldwide. We provide training and foster the leadership skills needed to give women a voice in their unions, in their workplaces, and in the global economy. Tens of thousands of women have participated.

As more join together in unions and allied networks, women are increasingly empowering themselves and each other in the struggle for economic fairness.

'The Key to Development in Africa Is Empowering Women.’ September 12, 2014—Up to 80 percent of workers across Africa labor in the informal economy, many as street vendors, taxi drivers and domestic workers.

Women Empowering Women in the Niger Delta. May 16, 2014—Born out of necessity to combat injustices in the Niger Delta, WITSOJ is training and mobilizing women and young people to effectively engage in the democratic political process, hold local lawmakers accountable and achieve concrete goals in their communities.

Women at Forefront for Rights in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco. May 13, 2014—In Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, women are taking concrete steps through unions to achieve social and economic justice and decent work, achievements possible when women are substantively involved in decision-making in their unions, their community and civil society.

Zimbabwe Women Workers Key to Making Workplace Rights a Reality. April 11, 2014—Zimbabwe women workers are key to ensuring the implementation of workplace rights established by the country’s new constitution, says Fiona Magaya, coordinator of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Gender Department.

Global Unions Fight for Women's Economic Empowerment. March 26, 2014—A delegation of more than 80 trade union women brought a worker rights voice to this year's Commission on the Status of Women gathering in March at the United Nations in New York.

Women’s Day 2014: Unionists Around the World Educate, Mobilize. March 11, 2014—Women workers from Bangladesh to Liberia and Mexico commemorated International Women's Day, held annually on March 8.

Peru: Women Farm Workers Build Empowerment Network. March 10, 2014—Rosa Pérez was brought to Lima, Peru, from the country’s Northern Sierra when she was a child to work as a domestic worker.

Dominican Unions Rally to Oppose Proposed Labor Code. March 7, 2014—Chanting, “No to Labor Code rollbacks, no to human rights rollbacks,” 100 workers today marched on the Business Tower in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, to oppose corporate-backed attempts to weaken labor code protections for working women and men.

Oretha Tarnue: Mobilizing, Empowering Liberian Domestic Workers. March 6, 2014—Oretha Tarnue, vice president of the United Workers Union of Liberia (UWUL) and a former domestic worker, is spearheading a drive in her country to organize domestic workers who,like their counterparts elsewhere, are routinely exploited by their employers.

With Union, Street Vendors, Bidi Rollers No Longer Invisible in India. March 6, 2014—India passed a landmark Street Vendors Act this month that, for the first time,recognizes the country’s 40 million street vendors as workers deserving of rights and labor law coverage equal to all other wage earners.

Four South African Unions Tackle Gender Inequality. March 5, 2014—Unions around the world are at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality. And sometimes, that means taking a look at their own structures, policies and practices to ensure they, too, are working to make equal treatment and non-discrimination central to their efforts.

Global Union Movement: Making Equality for Women a Reality. March 4, 2014—As International Women’s Day approaches, the global labor movement is mobilizing to put teeth into the celebration’s 2014 theme, “Equality for women is progress for all.”

Georgia Unionist: Tough Climb for Women to Become Leaders. September 30. 2013—Eteri Matureli knows how difficult it is for women to rise through the ranks of union leadership.

Women Unionists Meet in Morocco to Strategize Gender Equality. September 27, 2013—Nearly two dozen women trade unionists from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine are set to meet next week for a unique skills-building and strategy conference in Casablanca, Morocco.

Women in Manufacturing Share Empowerment Strategies.
July 31, 2013—With images of the April 24 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh as a backdrop, five union and community activists discussed the struggles women face in the light manufacturing industry—and how they are being empowered—in today’s first plenary at the Solidarity Center on gender equality. 

Women Agricultural Workers Break Their Invisibility. July 31, 2013—Working in large-scale agriculture creates a whole new set of challenges for women, but women in agriculture also have the opportunity to earn wages that can better themselves and their families, said Samantha Tate, Solidarity Center country program director for Peru.

Gender Equality: The Unfinished Business of the Labor Movement. July 30, 2013—Women at every level are “moving the labor movement in new directions” and “inventing new kinds of worker organizations and new ways of being a trade unionist,” says labor historian Dorothy Sue Cobble, distinguished professor of history and labor studies at Rutgers University.

Gender Equality Conference Participants Set to Strategize. July 30, 2013--Nearly 100 union and community activists from 20 countries are meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, today and tomorrow at a Solidarity Center Conference to discuss strategies for achieving gender equality in their unions and at the workplace.

Empowering Women: Organizing in Garment Factories, Maquilas. June 26, 2013—Women working in garment factories and similar jobs in the light manufacturing industry face many challenges—low pay, uncertain hours, unsafe working conditions and even age discrimination.

Empowering Women: Ensuring Agricultural Workers Have a Voice. July 25, 2013—As commercial farms increasingly dominate the world’s cash-crop market, women’s mass migration into commercial agriculture has become a global phenomenon. 

Working Women Empowered: Challenging Violence in South Africa. March 7, 2013—Although post-apartheid South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world and women comprise more than 40 percent of Parliament, the country also has high rates of gender-based violence, including “excessive rates of female homicides."

Working Women Empowered: Honduran Women Build Leadership. March 6, 2013—In Honduras, a country where women laboring in fruit packing plants and textile factories endure especially difficult conditions, two union leaders are empowering women to take on important roles in their unions and their communities.

Working Women Empowered: Making Democracy in Tunisia. March 5, 2013—Tunisian women helped spur protests and end autocratic regimes in Tunisia and throughout the Arabic-speaking world during the 2011 Arab spring.

Working Women Empowered: Building Strength Through Unions. March 4, 2013—Women make up more than 40.5 percent of the workforce worldwide, but their labor has not resulted in a similar increase in financial well-being. 

AFL-CIO Gives Human Rights Award to Domestic Workers Network. February 28, 2013—The AFL-CIO will give the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN) the 2013 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award.

Peru: Support Women Workers, Grow Economy. October 16, 2012--Women--and the work they do—are central to productivity and economic growth, to breaking the cycle of poverty and to ensuing more inclusive and just societies. Yet too often they face unnecessary barriers and terrible choices when it comes to work.

New Laws Would Grant Social Protections to 300,000 Dominican Domestic Workers. July 9, 2012—Two proposed laws would bring 300,000 domestic workers in the Dominican Republic into the national social security system, providing them for the first time with a minimum wage, health care, pension and other social protections.

International Domestic Workers Day. June 20, 2012—A year after the adoption of International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189, Decent Work for Domestic Workers, domestic workers declared June 16 International Domestic Workers Day. Domestic workers worldwide celebrated this historic victory. 


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