Accra, Jan 18, GNA - Mr Yaw Barima, the Acting Minister of Employment and Manpower Development, on Tuesday launched a 20-month Gender Mainstreaming Project for African Trades Unions in Accra.
He urged Trades Unions to adopt innovative steps to increase female participation as activists and leaders in all aspects of Union life.
"If Unions are to champion gender equality in employment as a basic human and workers' rights, they must first and foremost show that equality is an integral part of their own internal policies and structures.
"Unions cannot be credible unless women are adequately represented and fully involved in all Union structures and business", Mr Barima said.
The project is codenamed GEPATU, and is being organised jointly by the Organisation of African Trades Union Unity (OATUU), and the International Labour Organisation with financial support from the Government of Netherlands.
It is also working with six-affiliated National Trades Union Centres in Ghana, Tanzania, Mali, Guinea Sudan and Ethiopia. Among the goals of the project are supporting National Trades Union Centres to mainstream gender in their work.
Gender mainstreaming is a strategy for making the concerns of women, as well as those of men an integral part of the of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social services at all levels so that women and men benefit equally, avoid perpetuation of inequalities and ultimately achieve gender equality.
Also included in the goals of the Project are the raising of awareness and capacity building to be able at community, national and regional levels to organise and defend the rights of women workers, the majority of whom are in the informal sector, gender dimensions and HIV/AIDS.
Launching the project, Mr Barima noted that gender equality as a fundamental human right, and an essential condition for achieving effective democracy, and the democratic structure of Trades Unions and their mandate to promote and protect workers rights made unions important vanguards in the fight against discrimination at the workplace, community, national, regional and international levels. He suggested to Trades Unions to recognise the particular needs and priorities of women and adopt special measures, including specific policies, providing education and training for women, build their confidence and leadership capabilities and finally address special needs and constraints of women to enable them to participate more actively. This, he said, would also need strategies to defend and promote the rights of vulnerable groups such as migrant workers, special outreach services for informal and unprotected workers and changes in Union statutes and internal structures.
The Secretary General of OATUU, Hassan Summonu said the Trades Union Movement had its share of not sufficiently providing the enabling environment for the effective participation of women at all levels of the Trades Union Leadership.
He chronicled the efforts of the OATUU since 1976, culminating in a Gender Workshop in 2003, and finally the launch of the GEPATU Project, and said the Project would be replicated in all the other African countries.