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Working Women’s Congress of WFTU held in Panama

By staff |
March 16, 2018
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Members of the newly elected Working Women's Coordinating Committee of the WFTU
Members of the newly elected Working Women's Coordinating Committee of the WFTU (Fight Back! News/staff)

Panama City, Panama - The World Working Women’s Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions was held in Panama City March 8 through 10. Militant women trade union leaders from around the world gathered under the slogan, "We fight for equal rights at work, in society and in life."

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) is an international union federation with more than 92 million members that is based on class struggle unionism, union democracy, internationalism and anti-imperialism. The third World Working Women’s Congress was hosted by the National Coordinator of Panamanian Workers (CNTP). Delegates from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S. attended.

The congress included presentations by union leaders from many countries in the Americas and around the world about the struggles faced by women workers in their countries, including the fight to improve working conditions and wages, equal pay for equal work, for maternity and family leave expansion, and for an end to sexual harassment and assault.

U.S. trade union leader Cherrene Horazuk told congress participants, “The situation might appear grim in the U.S. But it is not, because each attack by the capitalists and their cronies in office are being met with resistance. And women are leading the way.”

Horazuk also stated, “As trade unionists from the U.S., our delegation recognizes the important role that we must play in the fight against U.S. imperialist aggression. Our enemies who are carrying out the neoliberal agenda and waging wars against the peoples of this world know no borders, and therefore our solidarity knows no borders. We know that our interests as U.S. workers lies not with U.S. business interests or U.S. government interests, but our interests are tied to the interests of workers around the world. We stand in solidarity with all of you in the fight for an end to the exploitation of the working class.”

The Panamanian Labor Minister hosted the delegates at a special screening with the director of an award-winning documentary about the life of the great Panamanian woman militant Marta Matamoros, WFTU vice president, who dedicated her life in the struggle for the rights of the working women.

The congress delegates voted to pass a general declaration and action plan and elected new leadership until the next congress. The action plan includes coordinated mobilizations for International Working Women's Day (March 8) and other key dates each year; to advocate for UN ratification of resolutions regarding women's unpaid work, the rights of migrant women workers, education of girl children, and women's reproductive health. The congress also called for the creation of an Asian Union of Textile and Garment workers, and for the strengthening of regional and sectoral educational programs for women.

Grace Khanye Mathelepo of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Arica was elected chair of the WFTU Working Women's Committee. She is joined on the new leadership body by union leaders from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Peru, U.S., India, Australia, Senegal, Palestine, Austria, France, Greece and Spain.

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