UNI Apro Women made a lasting impression with their strong contribution at the 5th UNI Women Conference held in Liverpool earlier this June. Here are some key points they made:
Starting with the motion on “Strategic Priorities”, Sister Samundeswari, exco member of UNI Apro Women and Vice President (Women) of UNI MLC, and Sister Saori of UA ZENSEN and exco member of Duskin Workers’ Union, both made interventions.
Sis Samundeswari observing the growth of women actively participating in Malaysia’s trade union movement urged that we must work continuously to dispel the old fashion concept of women’s submissive role especially in the wider society. She also urged UNI to enhance and expand existing programs that have proven successful in equipping young women with the necessary skills.
Sis Saori shared her union’s experience which has established a Women’s Committee to reflect women members’ voice. Through continuous negotiations and efforts made to increase knowledge and awareness among bosses at the workplace as well as among the union, they have successfully promoted family-friendly workplace policies.
Sis Hadiah Leem, President of Sarawak Banking Employees’ Union and exco member of UNI Apro Women, and Sis Mirah Sumirat, President of ASPEK Indonesia and UNI Apro Women, contributed to the debate on the motion of “Mentoring Programme”.
Sis Hadiah shared her union’s experience of empowering the young workers and women to reduce the barriers for them to participate freely in the trade union movement. She expressed appreciation and support for UNI Apro’s women’s courses held over the years that have built her confidence and empowered her to believe that she can make the change she want to see. She urged the conference to not only support the UNI’s mentoring programme but also to include like-minded programmes that further promote and increase skills and capacities in women workers.
Drawing on her own experience in ASPEK Indonesia working to encourage, empower, and increase the representation of women affiliates within the union, Sis Mirah urged UNI and UNI Apro to focus on developing the capacity and capability of women to prepare them for active participation and leadership roles in the trade union movement. She believes that only the collective committed efforts and a united response can achieve the desired result of a strong and influential trade union movement committed to protect the rights and promote the interests of all workers without distinction of whatever kinds.
Sis Cheung Lai Ha, UNI Apro Commerce representative to UNI Apro Women Committee and General Secretary HKRCCIGU Hong Kong, and Sis Yoko Akiyama of UA ZENSEN spoke on the motion on “Powerful Women”.
Sis Yoko raised the important issue on the conception of gender roles have to play in influencing the participation rate of women in the workplace, as well as men’s role in the household regarding childcare and housework. She shared a good practice from the Commerce Division of UA ZENSEN which organises an annual forum devoted to develop ways to address the gender role challenge.
Sis Cheung, reflecting on her struggle when she started to work as a young woman, shared that it was her first involvement in the trade union movement that opened her eyes, mind, and heart, which moved her to act to improve the lot of the world’s girls, women and young people. Taking on the issue of harassment, she urged that it should be addressed in its entire spectrum and that we should address it by according respect to our fellow human beings to ensure a safe environment for all. She counselled that the enemy is not men but indifference and inaction. It is by taking action that many ordinary women have accomplished extraordinary things. And so it is with action that we can all take a powerful step forward in helping build a future where women’s equality globally becomes a reality and not a distant dream.