UNI Global Union’s Equal Opportunities department recently launched an exciting new mentoring programme for women activists in South Asia and Southeast Asia. In partnership with the DGB Bildungswerk, the federal education institute of the German trade union confederation, UNI Equal Opportunities held a series of four workshops national and regional at UNI Apro region with leaders from 9 countries—Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Pakistan.
The programme’s goal is to deepen these activists’ involvement in their unions as well as help them develop their leadership skills. The last of the series of workshops was just wrapped up in Bangkok, Thailand, and included training sessions on gender mainstreaming, improving communications, ending violence and harassment on the job and building an action plan for leadership development.
In total, the 102 women activists who took part in the Southeast Asia workshops created 51 tandems—partnerships that reinforce the skills learned through one-on-one mentorship.
“The mentoring programme was a life changing experience for me. It helped me to develop as a leader to help others. Additionally, the opportunity to network was a great advantage which we all received from the programme,” says Shanika Silva from the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union in Sri Lanka, who acts as a mentor.
UNI Asia & Pacific Regional Secretary Rajendra Acharya said, “The mentoring programme we have been conducting is instrumental towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal Five on gender equality. Attaining equality is integral to other development outcomes, and in recent years, there has been increasing recognition of the critical importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment to sustainable development. As a result, there has been increased commitment to institutionalizing gender mainstreaming approaches across the workplaces.”
The UNI Mentoring Program is a program created by UNI Equal Opportunities as part of the That’s Why campaign, to inspire and empower more women to join the trade union movement. This new workshop increases the number of women taking part in mentoring to over 1,200 women in 56 countries around the world.
“There is nothing more rewarding than working with a group of strong, hard-working women who feel empowered to share their stories with each other,” shared Veronica Fernandez Mendez, Head of UNI Equal Opportunities. “Women who laugh together and are not afraid to cry, women who are strong, tireless and enterprising; women who share the same obstacles and who work together to find solutions make our societies fairer and more equal.”