by the General Confederation of Trade Unions
on the International Women's Day
The International Women's Day is marked on 8 March by the
decision of the United Nations as a day of struggle for women's legal and socio-
Today the CIS countries are carrying out programmes aiming to
promote the status of women in the political and economic spheres. Measures are
being taken to prevent sex discrimination in employment. Dismissal of pregnant
women has been banned. Other steps are also being undertaken to secure gender
equality in line with relevant UN and ILO documents.
Women participate actively in strengthening the trade union
movement. By joining the union ranks and getting involved in the life of their work
collectives, they make an outstanding contribution to the struggles for their legal,
social and economic interests, and thus enhance their status and role in their
The General Confederation of Trade Unions is proud of the
effective work being done by women's committees, councils and other bodies set up
by trade unions in CIS countries. Their direct participation in collective bargaining
helps conclude collective agreements that provide for better working conditions and
higher material standards for women. In close cooperation with various government
agencies and non-governmental women's organisations, these committees arrange
forums and seminars, organise retraining courses for unemployed women, assist
them in getting new jobs, and revive the tradition of holding trade skill contests.
However, the General Confederation of Trade Unions notes,
once again, that most of the CIS countries do not adhere strictly to the principle of
gender equality proclaimed by their national legislation. Female unemployment is still
high, and the level of women's work remuneration is much lower than that of men's.
The specific health and safety standards for women are not always observed. Hardly
any CIS country can boast of a minimum wage matching the national subsistence
minimum, which means that the number of poor and low-income families is large.
The closing down of many enterprises employing predominantly female labour forces
women into the informal sector, with its super-exploitation, unreasonably low wages,
poorly organised workforce, and, consequently, weak social protection. National
plans and programmes to improve women's situation are under-funded.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions is worried over the
violations of human rights of migrant workers in the Commonwealth territory. The
reforms have produced a new social tragedy, i.e. traffic in human beings that
primarily involves women and children. According to some estimates, about 600
thousand "slaves" in the world are former USSR citizens. Thousands of women and
girls from CIS countries are sold and transported to Western Europe and North
America where they are forced to work, held in debt bondage, deprived of the
freedom of movement, and subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse in
most perverted forms. According to the UN, human trafficking alone brings the
organised criminal groups a profit of more than US$ 3.5 billion annually. Turning
women into a commodity not only ruins their lives, but also aggravates the
demographic crisis in many Commonwealth States.
While voicing its alarm at all the problems of discrimination
against women, the General Confederation of Trade Unions and its member
organisations reiterate they intend to carry on their fight for the implementation of all
the international instruments aiming to improve the situation of women. We call upon
the national trade union centres in the Commonwealth countries, the industrial trade
union internationals, and women's organisations to enhance public control over the
fulfilment of the Beijing Platform of Action, step up their struggles for the liquidation
of any forms of discrimination against women, and concentrate their efforts on
preventing traffic in women and children.
In conformity with the decisions of the GCTU 4th Congress, we
will make a more active use of trade union media for gender education of workers
and for disseminating comprehensive information about the activity of women's
committees and councils to protect the legal and socio-economic interests of women
and their families.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions extends its
greetings to all women in the CIS countries on the occasion of the International
Women's Day, and urges all workers and trade unions to press more vigorously for
real gender equality. We wish women every success in their deeds and initiatives,
and may all their hopes come true!