In November 2019, a delegation of tradeswomen from around the United States will be joining women construction workers in Kerala India for Building Bridges: The 2019 Tradeswomen’s Training Exchange. The trip will be led by Carpenter Amanda Johnson of New York City, Electrician Noreen Buckley of San Francisco and Carpenter Amber McCoy of Portland, OR. A dozen other tradeswomen, including bricklayers, plumbers, millwrights and laborers have applied to join the delegation. Details are being finalized. The Training Exchange will be hosted by the Archana Women’s Centre in Kerala where women have received training in masonry and carpentry for several decades. The beautiful building that houses the Centre was built by women.
Following the Training Exchange between the women of Archana and the US tradeswomen, the delegation will go on to meet with union affiliates of the Builders and Woodworkers International (BWI). “The BWI is the Global Union Federation grouping free and democratic unions with members in the Building, Building Materials, Wood, Forestry and Allied sectors.” BWI representatives participated in the 2017 Building Bridges Delegation’s Conference at VV Giri Labour Institute in Noida, India and attended the 2018 Women Build Nations Conference in Seattle. Along with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), BWI has recently published a report, “Count Us In! Women Leading Change,” about the need for greater power for and leadership by women in the global trade union movement. BWI is also in discussions with Building Bridges and many other tradeswomen’s groups on a plan for an international conference for women working in the construction trades in 2020.
Stay tuned for updates on the Building Bridges Tradeswomen’s Training Exchange.
Here are a couple of excerpts from Count Us In!
- “Trade unions stand at the vanguard of resisting corporate greed, rebuilding peace and democracy and establishing social, economic and gender justice. If we are to succeed, we need to transform our own organisations. Whilst progress is being made, there are still far too few women in positions of power and influence in the decision-making bodies of trade unions.” page 2.
- “The importance of creating networks for women in trade unions cannot be overstated. Whether at a local, sectoral, national or international level, whether online or offline, they not only allow women to strategise and support one another, but they also provide vital access to leadership roles and elected positions. There are some within the union movement who still ask: ‘Why do you need a separate gender department?’ or ‘What’s the point of a women’s committee?’ but these structures are crucial safe spaces for the incubation of gender equality policies and the next generation of female leaders. One of the major challenges, however, lies in ensuring that unions integrate gender equality throughout their organisational agendas and structures – and this way successfully transforming the movement.” page 14.