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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

March 8 - International Women's Day

Posted to the IUF website 08-Mar-2005

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Five years ago on International Women's Day, March 8, trade unions and women's groups launched a World Women's March to highlight poverty and violence against women. The theme has lost none of its relevance.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, efforts to reduce by half the number of starving or undernourished people in the world by 2015 cannot be met. At the current rhythm, according to optimistic projections, the target will not be reached until 2147 in Africa, the most vulnerable continent. World trade and investment rules and the unregulated growth of transnational agro-food companies are actively undermining the possibilities for sustainable local and regional food and agricultural production. The decline in permanent, fulltime work and the growth of precarious and informal employment has also led to increasing women's poverty in developed countries.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has exposed the deep-rooted, persistent inequalities between men and women. The UNAIDS director calls this women's chronic lack of power: women's power to decide over their own bodies, to choose their partners, to reject violence and sexual abuse, to have access to and control over contraceptives. Women, and in particular working women, continue to be denied access to education and professional training, to productive resources and land and to a living wage.

This lack of power not only means that more women and girls than men are affected by HIV/AIDS. It translates into increased poverty for whole societies. It is therefore urgent that trade unions strengthen their capacity for tackling HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue, with a special focus on women and young workers.

Around the world, IUF members are active on this International Women's Day in reinforcing the struggle for equal opportunities for men and women.

  • Silvia Villaverde, president of the IUF Women's Committee, describes in an interview how IUF affiliates in Argentina are confronting and organizing around gender issues and sends a message to all IUF women members

  • In Australia the LMHU is calling upon women to fight for Fair wages and Workplace Conditions; Access to affordable and high quality Child Care; Safe and Healthy work practices; Respect and Recognition for the work we do under the slogan Don't agonise ´┐ŻORGANISE

  • In Burkina Faso, women are calling for a merciless struggle against increases in prices and for development policies that include women

  • In Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, women members are campaigning for maternity protection and maternity rights

  • In Germany, the NGG is calling for the unity and solidarity of all Nestl´┐Ż workers against management efforts to use the threat of closure to force workers at the company's Neuss plant to accept longer, unpaid working hours

  • In Honduras, women and trade unions, cooperatives, consumers, students and human rights groups are mobilizing against the regional trade agreement FTAA and those who are selling out the country

  • In New Zealand, the SFWU is highlighting women's low pay under the motto "Low paid women - invisible no more"

  • In Niger, women are gathering in front of the Parliament under the banner Women's global charter for humanity: build a world without exploitation, oppression, intolerance and exclusion

  • In Uruguay, the Network of Rural Women, the national trade union center, the IUF regional organization, the Tobacco Workers Union and the IUF Argentinean affiliate UATRE are holding a seminar on Gender and Work