Gertrude Mtsweni, COSATU national gender coordinator (click image for video). Credit: Tula Connell/Solidarity Center

Gertrude Mtsweni, COSATU national gender coordinator (click here for video). Credit: Tula Connell/Solidarity Center

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.

“Women´s Empowerment, Gender Equality and Labor Rights: Transforming the Terrain” is bringing together dynamic leaders like Gertrude Mtsweni, national gender coordinator at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), who says she wants to share her experiences with others and learn from them about educating and mobilizing around gender equality and worker rights–not only for women in unions, but for all women.

“I want to talk about the woman who´s unorganized, the woman who is unemployed, the woman in the informal sector who is not recognized by labor laws,” she said in a Solidarity Center interview before the conference. (Watch a video of Mtsweni.)

For Julia Quinonez, a representative of women workers in Mexico´s maquiladoras and part of the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras since its inception in 1986, meeting with conference participants from 20 countries is a welcome opportunity to learn from union leaders and others in nongovernmental organzations. The variety of groups involved “shows us we´re in a new moment now, we´re in a new phase to build unions that are more inclusive.”

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