This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) was unique in two way. Firstly, it came up as the ILO marks its centenary. Secondly it was during a revolutionary moment in Sudan in which women showed the way forward to overthrowing the 30-year dictatorship of Omar Al-Bashir. This made many women and men to recall the fact that the February Russian Revolution in 1917 was initiated by women.
Leon Trotsky succintly documented how women matched forward unfazed under the gaze of the armed troops on that fateful 1917 International Women’s Day in 1917, in his book History of the Russian Revolution.
Lecture to mark International Women’s Day
This year the NLC FCT Women’s Committee marked the Day with a lecture delivered by Comrade Rita Goyit, the HOD Women and Youth Department of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). The lecture on Gender based violence in the world of work, was held on 25th March 2019, at the conference hall of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
In her welcome address the chair of the Women’s Committee (SWC), Comrade Fibi Haruna said this year’s international women’s day was celebrated worldwide on 8 March as it is usually done. But due to the political situation in Nigeria at the time the celebration had to be postponed to 25 March 2019. She said Congress is committed to promoting a safe working environment for all workers.
The Chair of the occasion was the NCSU President, Comrade Lawrence Amaechi, who also serves as both the NLC FCT Chair and a Vice president of the NLC. He congratulated the women on the occasion of this year international women’s day, he also reiterated the reason why the council was marking the event after the 8th march as celebrated worldwide. He subsequently unveiled the NLC FCT SWC state campaign against gender-based violence and advised the committee’s executive to ensure that the banners they displayed are placed at various Government offices across FCT, to draw attention to the campaign.
Some of the inscriptions on the banners were; Say NO To violence and harassment of women and girl, Gender-Based violence affects workers negatively!!! We all deserve safe working environment, free from sexual harassment!!! Unions must promote and protect women’s right to be free from all forms of violence, Sexual harassment is a violation of human and Trade Union Rights and Stop sexual harassment at work: Respects & Promote the Dignity and Rights of all Workers.
In her lecture comrade Rita dwelled extensively on the theme of this year international women’s day “balance for better”. She said what makes you a trade union member is your membership dues. She said both men and women pay equal check-off dues so there is no reason why women should be relegated to backward roles in unions’ leaderships. She said everybody is needed in the society to have equal and balanced society she said issue of equality is not the same, we can be equal though we have our differences.
She warned that no gender should be discriminated against, she went ahead to categorize the need of workers into practical needs and strategic needs she said practical needs of workers include, good conditions of service, good salary and decent work while strategic needs include, maternity need for women, clean and functional toilet as a priority for women she went further to enumerates various contexts in which gender-based violence thrives and the need for women and men to resist.
She concluded her lecture with advice that conspiratorial silence needs to be broken, She also called on women to speak out and quite importantly that women should build sisterhood by protecting their fellow women.
Comrade Roselyn Anarah from NUPSRAW spoke on personal hygiene and proper dressing. The HOD Women Department of National Union of Road Transport Workers(NURTW) in her contribution advised the participants not to leave the program with a mindset that women are enemies of themselves but rather, their sisters keeper. She advised women to speak out against violence as there are always help available. The secretary of the FCT women commission Mrs. Comfort Otobo implored women to do a regular check up.
NLC Women Commission Organise Advocacy Rally
The NLC women commission also embarked on an advocacy rally to press home their demand for government to support the proposal for a new ILO Convention against all forms of Gender-based violence and harassment of women and men in the world of work at the forthcoming International Labour Conference (ILC) in June.
The rally which took off from the Labour House was led by Chair of the NLC National Women Commission, Com. Mercy Okezie. Comrades Rita Goyit and Nkechi Gdinukwe, the senior program officer of America solidarity center and other national officers of the women commission were equally on the procession.
The rally went through the major road that led to the Federal Secretariat and subsequently to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. At the Ministry, the leadership of the NLC Women Commission was received by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Williams Alo. Comrade Okezie called on the government to support and endorse the position of the NLC at the ILC.
The leadership of the Women’s Commission also took the advocacy to the Nigeria Employers Consultative Agency (NECA) where they also solicited the support of NECA to support the position of NLC at the tripartite ILC.
by Peter ADEJOBI