Education International
Education International

EI lends support to the World March of Women

published 13 October 2010 updated 13 October 2010

EI has sent a message of solidarity to the World March of Women taking place in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is set to close its third international action from 14 to 17 October, 2010.

More than 38,000 women and allies have joined the action since it began on 8 March, 2010, in order to build a national platform around four action areas: women’s economic autonomy; common goods and public services; violence against women, as well as peace and demilitarisation.

As a global movement that mobilises groups and organisations fighting for the eradication of the causes of poverty and violence against women, World March of Women will bring together, in Bukavu, an international delegation of 250 women from over 160 countries, alongside 900 Congolese women from the nation’s ten regions.

Bukavu has important symbolism to women because sexual violence in eastern DRC continues at epidemic proportions, and yet, very few cases manage to be progressed through the judicial system. A recent United Nations’ Mapping Report found that that victims’ lack of access to justice and almost universal impunity for perpetrators has reigned in recent decades. This has made women even more vulnerable than they were before.

In a letter to the World March of Women, EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, reiterated EI’s support for their demands. He stated: “In 2008, EI's Pan European Equality Committee adopted a declaration that called on the DRC government to implement the 2007 UN Resolution on the elimination of rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the involvement of Congolese teacher unions in implementing initiatives and programs to prevent, anticipate and curb sexual violence against women and girls.”

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, added: “There is an urgent need to consolidate peace in eastern DRC. The only way to achieve this is to tackle every aspect of the conflict, including the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the shortfalls in governance, the endemic poverty and the lack of decent work opportunities for men and women. Social dialogue is a key factor in securing peace and bringing an end to the intolerable acts of violence committed against women.”

EI reaffirms its commitment to quality education for all girls and women as an essential component to breaking the cycle of poverty, and its connected human rights abuses. Until women are educated they cannot raise their voices or be empowered to participate fully in society.

As the Global Union Federation representing teachers and education personnel in 173 countries and territories, EI believes there must be more investment in people, particularly women and their families; in addition to full access to education; decent jobs for all, including mothers and pregnant women; and full participation of women in the cultural, economic, political and social life of their countries and unions. These are among the themes that will be addressed during the first EI World Women’s Conference ‘On the Move for Equality’ to be held in Bangkok from 20-22 January, 2011.

EI President, Susan Hopgood, said: "Protecting the rights of women in the workplace and society is an important measure of progress in every community. Sadly, too many women are the top of the list when it comes to social and economic exploitation and violations, this experience is magnified in times of global financial hardship. I applaud the women who have joined this march for speaking out to demand dignity and respect for other mothers, sisters and daughters who do not have the opportunity."