Strengthening women leaders must be 2013 focus – a New Year message from the ITF women’s committee

To train and support women members to become more effective leaders would be a valuable commitment that ITF unions could make in 2013.

That from the ITF women’s committee which has introduced a leadership development programme for women activists which is being rolled out to ITF-affiliated unions across the ITF regions. The ITF leadership training Leading Change, which has been developed with Harvard Labor and Worklife Programme, involved 80 sisters – 13 of them women’s committee members - from across the globe in 2011-2012. It will now be delivered at regional events throughout the coming year. The focus of the training is on supporting women trade unionists to identify the skills they have to become stronger and more effective leaders.

ITF women’s coordinator Alison McGarry said: “By getting women transport workers from all levels of the unions to share their experiences, ITF sisters become more aware of their strengths and their sharing reinforces the leading role they have in making unions stronger. The training is practically based as participants identify their individual leadership skills and work on their own union strategic plans, getting and giving direct feedback to each other.” There’s been high praise for the programme from one of the most senior women in the ITF, vice president Brigitta Paas of FNV Bondgenoten. She said: “Women lead in different ways and can offer a new perspective on how to deal with problems and situations. Equality is part of any civilised society - so dividing leadership equally makes sense.” Describing the value of the ITF programme she said: “The training is about gaining confidence and realising your potential as a leader. It provides tools to build strength, to assist in demonstrating to your fellow union members that your personal strength can move the members, and the union as a whole, forward. This course helps women trade unionists to find that strength and learn ways of putting it into the service of their union and the members. Every person has the capacity to become a leader. You need to get the education to develop that capacity.” She went on: “We would like to now open the course to men. It's good for trade unionists at every level to learn to work together, for existing leaders to give others the opportunity to grow. By doing this course together, men and women ITF leaders have the opportunity to develop themselves as promoters of equality.” An ITF film, Women leaders make the difference, featuring footage and interviews from the Leading Change course and showcasing the work of the women’s department has been created. Watch it now.

(Find out more about ITF women’s leadership training and upcoming training opportunities.)

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