TUC Aid continues to support the CTCP union, which organises self-employed workers in Nicaragua, in their work to recruit more women to the union and to encourage woman members to take up leadership positions.
The project focuses on strengthening union structures, including national and regional women’s committees, providing training for women members on trade union issues and leadership, and also skills training for women CTCP members to help them become more efficient, and in doing so free up more time for community and union activities.
The National Assembly of the CTCP Women’s Committee has been an active partner in delivering the project, and has adopted the project’s intended outcomes as core aims, including increasing the number of women leaders. As part of their annual meeting, the NA publicly recognised several woman activists for their contribution to union work, in order to promote and encourage increased activity from women members. The NA also agreed to conduct a greater number of visits to union branches to offer support and identify potential leaders from among their activists.
District and municipal workers committees continue to be held in all areas, and increases in women’s participation reflect this. Of the CTCP’s eight federations, three are now led by women, up from one when the project began.
One area in which the project is having a significant impact is in reducing the prevalence of child labour. Many of the union members are single mothers, and it has become traditional for their children to accompany them to work, since there is no child care available. Awareness raising in the union has led to a decrease in child labour, with children instead attending school, some for the first time.
On the other hand, in order to maximise attendance it has been necessary to allow the women members to bring their smaller children to training, with arrangements being made by the union to find appropriate child care on site as an informal crèche.
Thus far, the idea of celebrating women’s activity within the union to create a virtuous circle inspiring more women to volunteer appears to be working.