Black women across the world are experiencing the same issues–despite borders, distances and cultural backgrounds–and the best way to face those challenges are solidarity, coalition building and convening organizations, say Solidarity Center partners who joined the recent Black Women’s Roundtable‘s (BWR) 13th Annual “Women of Power” Summit in Washington, D.C. The 26 international participants, all of them Black women labor leaders from 14 countries in Africa and the Americas, joined the summit for a day focused on international issues. 


Solidarity Center partners at the U.S. Capitol. Credit: Terrance Heath/Solidarity Center


“Our issues are the same. It’s just the faces and the locations that differ. And when we get together, that is when something great is going to happen,” said Bashiratu Kamal, gender equality officer with the General Agricultural Workers Union in Ghana, who spoke on a panel during the summit’s Global Empowerment Day. 


The rally. Credit: Verolyne Banard/Solidarity Center


Global Empowerment Day featured high-profile panelists including Ambassador Hilda Suka Mafudze, African Union ambassador to the United States; Jamila Thompson, senior adviser to the U. S. Trade Representative; and Carolina Wanga, president and CEO of Essence Magazine.

During the day’s discussions, punctuated by laughter, chants and even a spontaneous song, participants called attention to the problems women in their respective communities are facing, such as gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) and the treatment of workers in the care economy. The lack of women’s representation in decision-making processes, they noted, is all the more important because this year 4 billion people are going to the polls in national elections.



“It is very important that women have power in a democratic society. We have said and reaffirmed that, and we are convinced that democracy without women is incomplete and that society today is demanding us to be in power decisions,” said Delys Puerta Arellano, treasurer of the Single Union of Education Workers of Bolívar, in Colombia.


Black women labor leaders met at the Solidarity Center office for a leadership meeting in preparation for BWR Global Day. Credit: Terrance Heath/Solidarity Center


Participants also celebrated the strides their home countries have made for women’s rights. Zingiswa Losi, the first female president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), highlighted South Africa’s efforts, including the passage of ILO Convention 190, the establishment of a minimum wage, the South African Constitutional Court ruling granting workers’ compensation to domestic workers and progressive policies on parental leave. She said she was looking forward to taking other ideas, learned at the summit, home to further advance women’s and worker rights.


Credit: Bill Lee/Black Women’s Roundtable


The Solidarity Center has long been a champion for women’s rights, both in and out of the workplace, and has partnered with many women’s rights organizations around the world, including BWR, according to Sarah McKenzie, Solidarity Center program strategy and innovation director. McKenzie serves as co-chair of BWR’s Global Empowerment Working Group and connects Black women labor leaders from Africa and the African diaspora to BWR. She also helped launch the East African Women’s Roundtable in November 2023. 


A discussion of working conditions for sugarcane workers in the Dominican Republic and how Dominicans of Haitian decent are treated there. Credit: Bill Lee/Black Women’s Roundtable


“Creating a space for these amazing leaders to come together is important because they are able to bring their wealth of knowledge to come up with solutions, provide support and build coalitions, not only just for one another, but also for other Black women and labor leaders in the United States and broader civil society,” said McKenzie. 

Added McKenzie: “This summit is not just a one and done thing. The Solidarity Center is supporting these women to build out country coalitions and organize around the issues that were discussed at the summit. These women will be working closely together cross-regionally to develop advocacy plans aligned with global strategy and key priorities.”


Credit: Bill Lee/Black Women’s Roundtable

Credit: Bill Lee/Black Women’s Roundtable

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