Southern Africa: young female education unionists will strive for quality education for all

The recent Southern Africa Women in Education Network’s gender training and advocacy workshop was an excellent opportunity for young female education unionists to enhance their leadership and mobilisation skills, discuss tackling gender issues, and contributing to achieving the UN sustainable development goals.

The purpose of the workshop was to: enhance participant knowledge and understanding of gender concepts; increase awareness of gender equality issues within education unions and the sector; and share experience on trade union gender equality work.

Held in in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 3-5 September, the workshop was attended by 35 young women, gender coordinators and top leaders from: SINPROF (Angola); BOSETU and BTU (Botswana); LAT (Lesotho); PSEUM and TUM (Malawi); NANTU (Namibia); NAPTOSA and SADTU (South Africa); SNAT (Swaziland), BETUZ, SESTUZ and ZNUT (Zambia); and PTUZ, ZESSCWU and ZIMTA (Zimbabwe).

Opening the event, Education International (EI) Vice President Mugwena Maluleke warmly congratulated the Southern Africa Women in Education Network (SAWEN) for raising awareness on the issues of gender equality and diversity as well as empowering young female members.

“I call on the education unions to embrace cultural diversity and build on these diversities to recruit more members, to fight gender stereotypes and racism,” he stressed.

Maluleke went on to encourage education unions to empower their young members.

Issues discussed at the SAWEN event included mainstreaming gender in unions, women’s leadership, young members’ participation, the role of teacher unions in achieving SDG 4 and SDG 5, and the fight against school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV).     

Participants also focused on the conclusions and recommendations of the 3rd EI World Women's Conference, held from 5-7 February in Marrakech, Morocco, and developed strategies for the implementation of those recommendations.

They recommended that all trade unions put in place gender budgets, increase awareness on SRGBV, and raise their members’ knowledge on the SDGs.

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