The Southern Cone Women’s Network of EI’s Latin America Region met from 6-7 June in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to evaluate the results and challenges of EI’s World Women’s Conference held in Thailand in January 2011.
During the eighth EI Latin America Regional Conference which followed the Women’s Network meeting, representatives from Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Argentina proposed a Declaration on Pedagogy for real Equality and Social Rights, and discussed EI’s Quadrennial Survey on the Status of Women in Unions, Education and Society.
Commenting on the network activists’ work, EI Deputy General Secretary, Jan Eastman, said: “These women show the strength that lies in cooperation and solidarity. The Women’s Network in Latin America Region is working together to propose concrete strategies to consolidate the political discourse and strengthen education unions power.”
EI Latin America’s Women’s Network has released a new video that provides a closer view of the Network of Women Education Workers, the political mission of its members, and their proposals.
The Women’s Network does not exist to fulfil a quota because it contributes to the core union agenda with political analysis, debate and mobilisation.
“Our work does not only focus on gender issues; it also makes women’s debate more political and helps building a coherent political discourse, a discourse of struggle that helps strengthen unions,” explains Loreto Muñoz, from the union CPC in Chile.
In a region where almost 80 per cent of education workers are women, strengthening unions means strengthening the position of women within unions.
“Women play an increasingly central role in society,” says Juçara Dutra Vieira, from CNTE in Brazil and co-chair of EI’s Status of Women Committee.
“They play this role because they have gained political power. Being a woman, a worker, a trade unionist and a political agent are complementary conditions. None of these conditions exclude other possibilities.”
The creation of women’s units in education unions supports women to gain access to real power positions. Strategic plans and political guidelines combine women’s needs, rights and aspirations with other core union policies. For example, quality education is seen as a key tool to achieve greater equality between women and men.
“We denounce privatisation policies by neo-liberal governments that want to turn the right to education into merchandise, and subject us to the laws of the market,” explains Bertha Rey Castelblanco, from Colombia’s FECODE union.
The EI Latin America video will be shown at the Women’s Caucus on 21 July during the EI World Congress. To watch the video on EI’s YouTube channel please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvyAxbv8-ZQ