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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements


13 May 1996

The Congress of South African Trade Unions will hold its National Women's Conference on the 16-19 May 1996 at Protea Gardens in Berea. It will be the third women's conference since the establishment of COSATU in 1985. The first one was held in 1988 and the second in 1992.

Objectives of the Conference

The conference is part of a 3 year plan around building the organisation. It will continually evaluate progress around women issues. It will evoke discussions that will centre around building women leadership.

As the labour movement, COSATU has played a major role in developing women leadership. We have a number of women in parliament who are playing a significant role, like the Deputy Minister of Mineral and Energy and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee. As a working class organisation we need to continue developing women leadership in line with the socio, political economic developing situation in South Africa and the world at large.

For this reason the conference will ensure that COSATU's broader approach on campaigns incorporates issues around women, like parental right, child care leave and training of women leadership. Inevitable therefore COSATU Women's Conference shall evaluate progress made by its affiliates around gender issues.

We have gone past the stage of forming women / gender structures. We are now battling with the process of gender awareness and sensitivity. There are proper functioning structures in some affiliates. There is some progress on the development of women leadership and participation. The remaining factor is for the federation to engage in the process of developing and empowering women economically. Women should be able to participate effectively in economic decision making structures e.g. trade and industry and the drawing up of the national budget.

The conference will emerge with a programme of action, which will ensure that women struggle is taken forward by both working and unemployed women. We need to ensure that the gains achieved in the new constitution which accords equality to all regardless of sex, ethnic and race is turned into a reality, therefore developing a clear programme of action for the implementation of this constitutional guarantee.

The Conference Programme

Among the special aspects of the conference is the fact that we will also have international guests who will participate in commissions and be able to share their experiences. There will be women trade unionists from the Southern African Countries including Europe.

Nowetu Mpati COSATU Head of Communications

13 May 1996

Tel: + 27 + 11 + 339-4911 Fax: + 27 + 11 + 339-2281 E-mail: nowetu@cosatu.org.za