Индексная страница Написать письмо

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- economic equality.

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 societies.

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!