Minsk hosted a sitting of the coordinating council of the women's trade union network and the training seminar "Family Gender Upbringing". At the sitting, activists discussed the progress of women's leadership in the regions, as well as the social and labour problems they have to face.
"We are trying to actively develop horizontal links. Together with women from Brest, we went to Novopolotsk and Orsha," said Olga Shutova, an activist of the women's network of the REP Trade Union in Brest. "Trips to other regions within networks are very important. We are adopting the colleagues' experience and monitor the situation with workers' rights in other cities. It's always a chance to become closer and gain new knowledge."
Zinaida Mikhnyuk, the acting REP chair and the coordinator of the women's network, told the audience that the women's network of the REP Trade Union was created on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day – on December 10. This symbolic date inspires women for the struggle for equality and decent life.
"I'm pleased to note that at our nationwide meetings, there are always new people from different regions. It means that the women's network is alive and continues evolving. Like nobody else, women feel that the living standards are degrading. If we fail now to start struggling for decent wages at workplaces, the country will lose its future – most young people will emigrate. Belarus will become a country of pensioners, who have no resources to get their pensions from," Ms Mikhnyuk has concluded.
All those present have agreed that it is to start campaigning for the return of years of parental leave and child caretaking into the pension insured period.
Women-activists also want to focus on working with labour collectives. People often com to independent trade unions, who are members of the FPB (the pro-governmental Federation of Belarusian Trade Unions), and don't know how to get out of there and join one of the subjects of the BKDP (Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions). Recently, many employees from the trade sphere turn to independent trade unions. They are mostly women and potential leaders. Our task is to provide them with due knowledge and support.