International Women's Day: IYCW Demands to Stop Gender Discrimination!

Today is 8th March, the International Women's Day. This day reminds us of the long history of the struggle for women's rights which has been carried out until today. It reminds us especially of the demand for women’s suffrage, one of the demands brought forward in several countries as this special day historically evolved into a collective, international symbol.

“I was born in an indigenous community in Guatemala and my parents had to migrate to the capital city. I had to start working at the age of 14 to put myself through school. I have worked for two years at Coransa, a textile maquila (which later changed its name to Denimatrix), in the laundry section where I have a production target of 2,500 trousers that need to be revised to ensure they have no defects. Through the continuous process of education and action of YCW Guatemala we have seen the high level of exploitation and the workers’ rights being trampled on; they have long working hours and unpaid overtime. When I first started, the company had 3,200 workers, it currently has 1,800 and the company has used mass dismissals. – Nadia (YCW Guatemala)

“I work as a team leader in a building company. I am the only female team leader in this company. I would like to have children in the near future. Since the company well-being matters to me, I spoke to my superior to inform him about my plans. Without asking any questions about how I planned to combine this with my job, my superior replaced me as a team leader by a man and downgraded me from one day to another. I found out that all the other – male – team leaders earned more money than me.”- Juliana (Germany)

This historical struggle for gender equality is not over. The testimonies of the young woman workers from Guatemala and Germany reflect the range of situations women have to go through around the world and the kind of precarious life they face every day. Women have less power, influence and participation in decision-making processes at different levels in the family, at work and in the society. Young women receive lower salaries than men for the same jobs. Women are in the production line and are very seldom found in managerial positions. This affects the social security and old age pension. Women are very often forced to work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions without any proper protection.  Women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are systematically discriminated, harassed, exploited and abused mentally, physically and sexually at work and in the society. Sex discrimination is maintained intentionally to weaken workers’ organizations. Men dominate women in many aspects of life due to the patriarchal model.

This reality was described by delegates from all over the world at the XIV International Council of the IYCW, held from 25th September to 8th October 2016.

The underlying sex and gender-based definition of roles affects all human beings since it is an obstacle to liberty, justice and equality for everyone.

We will never accept that. As the council stated, this reality goes against the gospel and common truth values, as well as against the spirit of the YCW. Equality among human beings regardless of gender, race, nation or colour must be promoted and protected. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everybody has the right to work and to free choice of employment. So no gender concept should influence the access to a specific job. Both young women and men must be free from sexual, mental and psychological harassment.

It is clear: each young worker has the right to just work, equality and dignified life!

We fight for gender equality in each of our sectors of action. We claim the right for women to get their first job and we promote sexual diversity. We empower women inside our movement. At the same time, we demand the implementation of equal rights at all levels of society!

Our international plan of action clearly shows that we act every day, at every moment, for change and for equality and justice. Today is not the only day for action, but it is a specific moment to remember the long tradition we are in, and all the people who sacrificed in this struggle.

Never forget the fight! Never give up hope! Together we demand equality and justice!

We wish you a good International Women’s Day!

In solidarity,


The IYCW International Secretariat

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