THE chairperson of the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) Women’s Advisory Council, Joyce Masiya had urged women in the energy sector to actively participate in trade union activities and take leadership positions.
A seasoned trade unionist who have been in the tranches for more than 15 years said women should not take a back seat on issues that affect their welfare as they were equally affected as their male counter parts.
This year she said the union managed to send participants to the international women’s day in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare which was held under the theme “Inspiring Change taking a stand for women”.
In Harare, the commemorations were held at the Rayton Sports Club were hundreds of workers from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions concerned affiliates attended the event. However the commemorations were marred by an unfortunate incident when the ZEWU general secretary, Martin Chikuni and Tatenda were arrested by the police for organising a march without their cleared.
In Zimbabwe all marches and proceedings have to be cleared by the police under the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA). This is despite the fact that the High Court made a landmark ruling in 2005 exempting trade union from the excesses of POSA.
During the commemorations women raised issues affecting them at the workplace which included sexual harassment and victimisation by their male counterparts who oftenly regard them as sex toys.
Other issues raised were discrimination especially on promotions especially involving managerial positions and other strategic posts.
“What we have discovered is that women are taken as second class citizens and they are regarded as incapable people. But to our surprise is that we have a lot of examples were women have led powerful organisations and institutions such as Securico and Zimbabwe Open University whose directors have proven to be credible and powerful women. We have to emulate these distinguished women because nothing for us without us,” she said.
She said women’s activities in the ZEWU structures were at times affected by the mushrooming of yellow unions which are bent to confuse membership. She said these yellow unions are formed by disgruntled dubious individuals who are power hungry and have a hidden agenda of derailing the working class’s agenda.
At the moment some women members have undertaken several capacity building courses on paralegal while others are undertaking programmes on Train the trainer courses.
Masiya saluted ZEWU president Angeline Chitambo for standing firm and demonstrating that women are equally capable if given the opportunity. She said all women in the rank and file of the organisation have great inspiration for Chitambo who have made a mark nationally, regionally and globally.
“We salute Chitambo for leading the way in becoming one of the most influential trade union leaders in a male dominated field. She is our pillar of strength. We are fully behind her,” said Masiya.
In Masvingo participants were allowed to march and the mayor alsograced the ocassion. ZEWU president Angeline Chitambo addressed workers there were she urged them to actively participate in union activities. The commemoration in Mutate, Gweru and Bulawayo were
The Harare commemorations were attended by other trade union leaders who include, president Lovemore Matombo, Raymond Majongwe and Munyaradzi Gwisai among others. They all urged women to rise up to the occasion and be their own liberators.