Published On: Sun, Feb 19th, 2017

Empowered women participate in seminar on gender equality and labour rights

A 3-day Seminar on “Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equality and Labour Rights” was today concluded in Mogadishu, and gathered women and men trade unionists from twelve unions affiliated with the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU).

The seminar, which was funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, was organised to emancipate and empower Somali women to confront and challenge systems that subject them to discrimination; to equip women workers with the voice to speak out; and to promote the equal contribution of women and men to society, to economic life and to the trade union movement.

At the opening of the workshop, the General Secretary of FESTU Mr Omar Faruk Osman articulated sincere appreciations for the genuine solidarity support that the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation provided to the trade unions in the process of mainstreaming gender equality issues, empowering women workers and promoting essential role of women in Somali society.

Mr. Guglielmo Giordano, Representative of Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, expressed his pleasure to support such a bottom-up initiative by the workers’ organisations, and underscored Italy’s commitment to help improve the women empowerment and the stabilisation of Somalia. “Our aim is to strengthen and promote local, regional and national approaches to protect women rights and to support their roles in the Somali society”.

Mr. Abdi Abshir Dorre, Executive Director of Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), representing the employers’ group, indicated that employers and trade unions have common understanding on the emancipation of women economically and politically, so that they can play their vibrant role in the decision-making processes. Women workers and entrepreneurs are the backbone of this country, he added.

Female and male representatives from Upper and Lower houses of Somalia’s 10th parliament were invited to speak to and engage seminar participants on ensuring women’s meaningful involvement in the national leadership and improvement of workers’ rights.

At the closing ceremony of the seminar, Italian Ambassador to Somalia, H.E. Carlo Campanile, spoke to the seminar participants and conveyed solidarity message to women trade unionists, and asserted Italy’s total commitment to promote the protection of women workers, enhance women’s role in Somalia’s national leadership and empower women to be pro-active and vocal in order assume their role.

Ambassador Campanile, who acclaimed the amicable relationship and cooperation between FESTU and Italian trade union federations, encouraged Somalia to ratify and domesticate ILO convention 100 on equal remunerations in order to ensure that female workers get same equal remuneration like male workers.

This three-day seminar has brought together thirty women and eight men from Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, Bossasso, Galkayo, Beledweyne and Jowhar. Participants identified and shared information on the mechanisms and practices which positively contribute to gender mainstreaming, examine how labour rights of women workers can be protected, and discussed how best to empower women.

Women trade unionists are naturally motivated to utilise their learning for the wider good of the workplace and society. Given the motivation, strength and commitment of these women to bring about positive social, economic and political change, it is conventionally estimated that each will further educate and empower a further 15 women in her own region.

The seminar was organised with full backing of three Italian trade union federations, Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (CISL) and Italian Labour Union (UIL), as part of their concerted efforts to Somalia.

FESTU has been continuing to educate women across the country on their rights, existing legislation affecting them and the roles in the trade unions and society. In September 2016, FESTU organized a gender equality workshop for trade union leaders in cooperation with Swedish Trade Unions Confederation (ILO), ITUC-Africa and Olof Palme International Center.

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