“In our professional lives, we all hope for an environment that encourages growth, collaboration and equality. However, reality often falls short,” began Johanna Jonsdottir from SSF Iceland and President of UNI Europa Youth during her opening remarks on the Youth motion presented at the UNI World Women’s Conference.

Her words echoed across the room as she, and Crisnalda Nhamucale from SINECOSSE Mozambique and Vice-President of UNI Africa Youth (pictured above) introduced the motion.

“Youth is a period of change, of transition, but for many young women, this period can be considered a liability by her employers,” said Crisnalda.

According to the ILO in their report on Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022, young women are worse off than young men with only 27.4 per cent being employed against 40.3 per cent of young men. This means young men are 1.5 times more likely to be employed than young women.

This, as well as additional structural barriers such as social and cultural stereotypes, add to the challenges faced by young women.

Blair Rose from ABWU, Antigua and Barbuda shared: “I will not choose between being a woman, a worker or a mother,” as she shared her story of breastfeeding in the workplace as a young mother and how these challenges pushed her to start a campaign for better breastfeeding practices in her workplace.”

“Being a woman is difficult but being a young woman is twice as hard. They are discriminated for wanting to start families, they are overlooked for promotions or positions because they do not have ‘enough experience’ or they are the subject of constant violence and harassment in their workplace. As trade unionists we have a responsibility to ensure that we create spaces where young people, particularly, young women, can feel safe, supported, and can thrive,” said UNI Youth Director Marta Ochoa.

To support young women in UNI affiliated trade unions, the UNI World Women’s Conference adopted the motion presented by UNI Youth on this issue which aims at collectively working to break down barriers faced by young women workers and support their access to the world of work.

The motion includes areas such as support for campaigns against violence and harassment; education and training of young women; increase in young women’s representation across UNI structures and inclusion of young workers issues in collective bargaining.