18 July 2014 – Women transport worker power was on display in Nepal last month when more than 200 women workers came together to share their union experiences and plan how to bring more women into unions.
Taxi drivers, tempo (three-wheeler) drivers, street cleaners, food vendors and kayak guides were among those at the second Independent Transport Workers’ Association (ITWAN) women’s congress. The event was a chance for women to celebrate their achievements, elect the women’s committee, and plan their future work programme.
Nishi Kapahi, of the ITF Delhi office, spoke to workers at the congress. She was inspired by the strength of the women workers, and the success they’ve had in increasing union power. She said: “We heard amazing stories about how unions can change women’s lives – and how women workers make unions more powerful. Personally, I was inspired by the sheer determination of the informal women workers in recruiting more and more sisters into their union through mentoring, training and community organising. They are living proof of the fact that strong unions need women.”
ITF women transport workers coordinator Alison McGarry, who participated in both ITWAN and Nepal Yatayat Mazdoor Sangh (Nepal Transport Workers Union – NETWON) meetings, said she was deeply impressed by both unions’ commitment to bringing women workers onto their most important committees and their support for leadership development.