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Unions need women’s involvement today and every day

news 07 Mar 2024

Rooted in the labour movement, ITF is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day with a call for more women to join and get involved in their trade unions.

One of the first instances of it being marked was in 1909 when women textile workers in New York marched demanding shorter hours, higher pay, and the opportunity to vote. Perhaps better known, on 8 March 1917 socialist women and textile workers in Petrograd held a mass demonstration demanding "bread and peace" – a slogan which still has resonance today with women workers in war torn countries such as Ukraine and Palestine.

Taking place on 8 March each year the theme for 2024 is “inspire inclusion”. At ITF we are calling for greater inclusion of women in the transport industry, and just as importantly, in their trade unions.

To build union power, we must prioritise women’s leadership, participation and equality in elected structures, union strategy, work programmes and in both bargaining and campaigning. Union strategy must respect, support and integrate the demands of women transport workers. 

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said: “The union movement needs more women to be getting involved at every level. The transport industry can be male dominated, but that does not have to be true in our movement. The future of our movement depends on it being representative of the workforce – hearing the voices of those who have previously not been heard or listened to. Where there are barriers to inclusion, we have an obligation to overcome them.”

On International Women’s Day ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton will be speaking in Brussels at the Conference on the Wellbeing of Seafarers organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, as part of a panel discussing the issues of increasing inclusion of women in maritime.

We are proud to be sharing stories of progress made by transport unions for and by women with a focus on Latin America.

Share your own events and messages from your union on social media, and tag us at ITF.