Empowering Women Education Workers: Summary of the EILA Regional Network Meeting

published 31 July 2023 updated 20 March 2024

The meeting provided an opportunity for analysis of the current situation, workshops and discussions between colleagues from all over the region.

Initiatives such as the campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 and the launch of the Network’s Observatory: Sumemos Igualdad (Let’s Ad Equality).

On 24, 25 and 26 July, more than a hundred teachers gathered in San José, Costa Rica, for the Regional Meeting of the Network of Women Education workers of the Internacional de la Educación para América Latina (IEAL) [Education International for Latin America].

This meeting was part of the dynamics of the Network and was the second to be held after the pandemic and the resumption of face-to-face events. On this occasion, more than 100 teachers from all over the region, mostly women, and representatives of 18 organisations affiliated to IEAL, actively participated.

The event was moderated by Fátima Silva, General Secretary of the Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadorese em Educação (CNTE) [National Confederation of Education Workers of Brazil] (CNTE) and Vice-President of the Regional Committee of the IEAL; Sonia Alesso, General Secretary of the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina (CTERA) [Confederation of Education Workers of the Republic of Argentina] and member of the Education International (EI) Global Executive Committee; and Gabriela Sancho, Coordinator of the EILA Regional Office. In addition, the event was attended by two congresswomen from Brazil in a guest capacity.

This year, the meeting was divided into three days in which the participants shared the situation of their countries and organisations learned about the most recent initiatives of the network and participated in two training sessions.

The first day began with a presentation on Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work by Larraitz Lexartza, ILO Gender Officer for Central America, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The ratification of this convention was promoted by the IEAL through a campaign that was also on the agenda of the event. During the rest of the day, participants from each organisation had the opportunity to present the political situation in their countries and the situation regarding women's rights and gender equality.

The second day began with a plenary session in which the group of Brazilian congresswomen shared their experiences with the participants. This was followed by the presentation of the Network’s Observatory: Sumemos Igualdad [Let's Add Equality], a new website where people can find information and stay abreast of issues relating to gender equality in the world of work and specifically for the education sector.

The rest of the day was dedicated to two workshops. One of them was called "Public opinion is also ours: communication for women trade unionists", which focused on providing participants with basic communication tools to enable them to position their issues and agendas inside and outside their organisations and to generate a reflection on the need to make women's work in organisations more visible.

Entitled "Playing, dancing and singing in a unionist key with Tocá el Tambó", the other workshop sought to explore the potential of music in spaces of social protest and enabled the participants to come up with a slogan that was shared with the rest of the plenary session at the end of the day.

Finally, on the last day, there was a presentation on EI's campaign "Por la Pública! Creamos Escuela" [ Go Public! Fund Education], which opposes the privatisation of education and the education trade and seeks to demand more state funding for public education. The presentation was given by the Observatorio Latinoamericano de Políticas Educativas (OLPE) [ Latin American Observatory of Educational Policies].

Before the closing of the activity, the Regional Office officially launched Volume 9 of the RED Magazine[Network periodical] dedicated to women's work overload and the challenges of reconciling work, trade union and family life.

Click here to see the pictures of the meeting.

The Network of Women Education Workers is a joint work structure that was set up by the IEAL Regional Committee in 2005 to bolster unions by implementing union policies that promote and guarantee the effective and politicised participation and activism of women teachers. This initiative is based on the recognition that at least 70% of education unions are made up of women.