Empowerment at the forefront: Asia-Pacific women lead in education

published 5 July 2024 updated 9 July 2024

The first Education International Asia-Pacific (EIAP) Regional Women’s Conference, titled “Sisters in Solidarity: Empowering Action and Leadership in Education Unions Across Asia-Pacific,” marked a significant milestone in the journey toward gender equality in education. From July 2nd to July 4th, 2024, women leaders, trade unionists, and youth from 42 member organizations across 25 countries convened to create a path of empowerment and leadership.

Ongoing trade unions advocacy for women’s empowerment

This year’s conference echoed the spirit of the first EI World Women’s Conference held in Bangkok in 2011, creating a clear continuity in empowering women and youth across decades and continents.

The event showcased a large array of keynote speakers, interactive workshops, and insightful presentations from women leaders.

The agenda was packed with hands-on sessions focused on strategizing and leadership tactics, addressing challenges of violence and harassment in schools and workplaces, and advocating for the ratification and implementation of International Labour Organization’s Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work among the unions.

Focus on gender and climate change

A special focus was placed on “Gender and Climate Change,” where leaders brainstormed gender-responsive climate strategies and emphasized the need for government action in education. Success stories from the EI Go Public! Fund Education campaign in Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and Fiji provided valuable insights.

Strategic planning for sub-regional empowerment

The conference also served as a platform for women leaders from the four sub-regions of the Asia-Pacific to develop strategies to turn resources into power, build strong networks, and foster effective leadership within unions. They worked on sub-regional gender equity plans for 2024-2026, aimed at driving change at both national and regional levels.

Celebrating leadership: Honoring EI President Susan Hopgood

A highlight of the conference was the celebration of EI President Susan Hopgood, who hails from Australia and the region. Her exceptional leadership and dedication to the education trade union movement and the cause of women’s empowerment and leadership were duly honored.

In her remarks, Hopgood reflected on the progress made and the work that lies ahead. “Together we are more than the sum of individual identities and backgrounds. Together, we can make up for our personal biases and the historical lapses of our organizations, institutions in representation and accountability,” she stated.

Anand Singh, the EIAP Regional Director, shared a message emphasizing the event’s goal to “provide opportunities for women leaders to share experience, to draw inspiration and to bridge the gap between gender equality and leadership in the education unions across the Asia-Pacific region.”

The conference concluded with a unified resolve to continue the momentum, ensuring that the voices of women in education are not just heard but are leading the charge for change.