Towards the 4th World Women's Conference of the ITUC

final_teal-2.jpgOn November 17-22, the 5th World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation will be held, which focuses on the demand for a New Social Contract. On the eve of the Congress, the ITUC women's conference will be held, at which trade union activists will discuss a strategy to promote gender equality and justice in the context of the global crisis in healthcare, economic and social spheres. 

The main themes of the Conference are:

The differentiated impacts of COVID-19 on women
Building a caring economy - #InvestInCare
Eliminating gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work – #RatifyC190
Securing equal pay for work of equal value and gender-responsive social protection
Building women’s transformational leadership in the unions
Climate justice and just transition – women as actors for a just transition
Women’s struggles for peace, freedom and democracy
How do we ensure that equality and equity is at the heart of recovery.

At the preliminary online sessions of the conference, it was stated that the COVID-19 crisis demonstrated the crucial role of working women in the life support sectors of society (primarily in healthcare). At the same time, in the social and labor sphere, the entrenched gender inequality has not only been exposed, but also increased. Women lost their jobs faster than men; the number of poorly paid work and unpaid housework increased; various risks increased – from infection risks to a surge in domestic violence, harassment, including cyberbullying.

Data from the Russian Federation also confirm that the pandemic has hit women harder. The average life expectancy of women decreased by 3.7 years (2.8 years for men) and the increase in mortality among women overtook this indicator for men, starting from the age of 20.  According to the data on confirmed infections and hospitalizations, more than half of the cases were women.  The proportion of deceased Russian medical workers is one of the highest in the world.  The trade union «Deistvie» explains this mortality rate "with a shortage of PPE, incorrect algorithms for organizing the work of medical institutions in the conditions of the spread of Covid, often with the negligence of officials and administration of medical institutions." These gaps particularly affect the middle and junior medical staff, most of whom are women.

The need to increase investments in the care economy is an urgent issue for the Russian Federation. Thus, the demand for places in kindergartens remains unsatisfied, the elderly population faces low availability of social services, the level of payment in the sectors "education", "health and social services" is below the national average.  In a «health and social services» sector, the gender gap in the average monthly salary (14%) has not decreased in recent years, including pandemic ones, but on the contrary, has increased.

According to Russian statistics, in 2021, women's unemployment is higher than men's; women are 1.6 times more likely to be employed in jobs with low hourly salary; almost a fifth of women work in informal employment; the gender salary gap is 23.7%. Among the planned government measures to bridge the this gap, there is no transparency policy, strengthening of social dialogue, as well as improving anti-discrimination legislation in general. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem of harassment, which particularly affects women in situations of vulnerability, including in labor migration. The ratification of the ILO Convention No. 190 against Violence and Harassment at Work is not stated in the plans of state bodies.

 The problem for Russian working women remains the lack of a fair intra-family distribution of domestic work. Often because of this, women of fertile age may still face discrimination when applying for a job. In the absence of special leave (only) for fathers, the number of men taking or wishing to take parental leave is insignificant. The COVID-19 pandemic in Russia has put women in an even more vulnerable position with regard to domestic violence. However, the prospects for the adoption of a law against this social evil remain extremely uncertain.


Public opinion polls indicate a significant part of Russians, especially women, are worried about the climate issue. Women add more importance than men to the problems, the consequences of which may fall on their shoulders in households: deterioration of the quality of food, the rise of diseases caused by unfavorable environmental conditions.

In 2022, the Russian labor market faced a new reality: armed conflict, sanctions, withdrawal of foreign companies, partial mobilization. From a gender perspective, the following trends have been recorded since the end of September: women are invited to job interviews more often than men; women have been offered traditionally "male" positions (which actualizes the issue of canceling the list of "prohibited professions"); the demand for age-related women may change for the better. HR specialists form recommendations to employers to increase the attractiveness of vacancies for women. However, it should be taken into account that, on the whole, the prospects of the Russian economy are assessed extremely cautiously, which cannot but affect the overall socio-economic situation of women.

An absolute requirement concerning both society as a whole and trade unions, both in the world and in Russia, is the active involvement and promotion of women at the decision–making level. Without this condition, the ideals of equality, justice, peace, freedom and democracy cannot be achieved.

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