OATUU holds conference on Covid-19 impact on women and youth in Africa

The Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) has concluded its virtual conference themed ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Women and Youth’ on 30th November, 2021. The conference hosted several women and youth commission leaders across the African continent who offered diverse perspectives on the challenges and opportunities presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Secretary-General of OATUU, Mr. Arezki Mezhoud revealed that the number of women who had become victims of gender-based violence had increased, owing largely to the lockdowns and curfews instituted to tackle the health crisis. He also emphasised the long-term effect of school closures, saying that this action would reinforce social and economic inequalities, as many young people would be deprived of a fundamental right-education.

He therefore charged labour organisations to focus on the ratification of ILO Conventions (190) and ramp up social dialogue efforts in a bid to influence policy. He also encouraged labour organisations to help women and the youth, join unions so that they would not be left behind in terms of representation.

President of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) Women’s Commission, Soumia Salhi also spoke on the numerous challenges African women have encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic and concluded her address by congratulating these women for sustaining their families in such a difficult period. She highlighted some of the work that UGTA was doing to help women in dire situations.

The participants were also given the opportunity to share their thoughts. There was general consensus that the Covid-19 pandemic had left a huge burden on African workers, especially women and the youth in the form of job losses and salary cuts. However, some pointed out that opportunities had also emerged, with the growth of various digital platforms which were facilitating human interactions and activities