On October 4th and 5th, Tradeswomen Building Bridges was honored with an invitation to participate in the 1st ever Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) Global Conference on Women in the Trades. Delayed by Covid-19 from its original scheduled date of June 2020, it was held in Madrid, Spain as part of 5th BWI World Congress.
More than 200 Women from 117 countries gathered. Despite participants speaking 13 different languages, we were able to share experiences, learn of the various global campaigns supporting women’s rights, and built global connections.
Key themes highlighted over the two days were:
* Women’s work being seen as equal in the workplace
*Women’s rights are human rights and a rising tide will lift ALL boats.
* Work/Life Balance: Moving beyond a model that is over 50 years old, to one that works for current lifestyles.
TBB members, Doreen Cannon and A. McCoy, represented North America in two separate panel discussions. Doreen shared her experiences as a Union Plumber, weaving in the value of the best practices that came out of our London delegation. With more than 25 years of experience as a tradeswoman, Doreen testified about the power and energy that gatherings of women leaders, like this one, brings about in our networks. Day One ended with the official opening of the Women’s Conference by Rita Schiavi, Chair of the BWI International Women Caucus. There was also an homage to our departed sister Jin Sook Lee, the Global Campaign Director of BWI. These two women were close friends of our organization since its inception.
The following day McCoy spoke on a panel about gender in contract negotiations. They shared TBB’s best practices for increasing the number of women in the trades. In addition to highlighting increased numbers of tradeswomen in Oregon and Massachusetts, McCoy also presented the history of TBB and our belief in building Tradeswomen Networks.
Day Two ended with the launch of the 5th BWI World Congress. Here we heard uplifting words from Per Oolf, President of BWI, Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director General of International Labor Organization (ILO) and Pedro Hojas, General Secretary of General Union of Workers of Spain (UGT FICA).
During these two days, we were able to connect with our friends from previous delegations. We were particularly excited to visit with Rajeev and Prerna, two BWI South Asia program officers who we met during our 2019 delegation. We also saw our sisters and brothers from Unite in the UK and our sisters from the BWI European Women’s Committee.
We also built new connections with our Australian sisters and strengthened our connection with our friends in the Philippines.