International Symposium on Gender Equality as a Growth Strategy
On September 28 JILAF invited labour union leaders from five Asian countries to serve as panelists at an international symposium titled “Gender Equality as a Growth Strategy.” The symposium was attended by 105 persons, including labour union personnel, government officials, and members of employer organizations.
In the symposium, panelists from Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Singapore gave reports on such topics as economic growth and gender equality and the continuity of employment by female workers. From Japan, Noriko Kobayashi, vice-chairperson of the Central Executive Committee of the Yamato Transport Union, spoke about the present state of gender equality efforts in her union.
In the discussions, the panelists shared an awareness of the problems involved in realizing gender equality, emphasizing the importance of ensuring maternal protection, eliminating discrimination against women, securing the same wages for the same job, and establishing a work-life balance for both men and women.
The organization of domestic workers was also raised as a major issue. In Hong Kong the Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) has been formed as a labour union for domestic workers, but it was reported that organization is generally difficult in this sector because almost all domestic workers are employed in private homes and many of them are migrant workers.
At the end of the symposium, one participant commented, “Nonregular workers have low wages and a poor working environment, so it is important to promote a shift to regular employment and establish a safety net.”