The ACTU will host the 8th World Women’s Conference Of The ICFTU in Melbourne from 18-21 2003 February at the Carlton Crest Hotel.

It is expected that 300 international delegates will attend along with 150 Australian Women from the ACTU Women’s conference who will also participate in the main plenary sessions.

Who Will Attend

The conference will be attended by women union leaders from 225 affiliated organisations in 148 countries. These women will have responsibility for developing and implementing policy at a local level as well as representing their countries in world forums.

About the ICFTU

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), was set up in 1949 and has 225 affiliated organisations in 148 countries and territories on all five continents, with a membership of 157 million.

It has three major regional organisations, APRO for Asia and the Pacific, AFRO for Africa, and ORIT for the Americas. It also maintains close links with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) (which includes all ICFTU European affiliates) and Global Union Federations, which link together national unions from a particular trade or industry at international level.

Membership of the ICFTU

The ICFTU is a Confederation of national trade union centres, each of which links together the trade unions of that particular country. Membership is open to bone fide trade union organisations, that are independent of outside influence, and have a democratic structure

ICFTU Activities

The ICFTU organises and directs campaigns on issues such as:

  • the respect and defence of trade union and workers’ rights,
  • the eradication of forced and child labour,
  • the promotion of equal rights for working women,
  • the environment,
  • education programs for trade unionists all over the world,
  • encouraging the organisation of young workers,
  • sends missions to investigate the trade union situation in many countries.
  • Equality

  • Gender discrimination is deeply rooted in all societies.
  • The world-wide feminisation of the work force will continue. Around 45 % of
    women aged 15-64 have jobs or are job seekers.
  • Priority areas for action for trade unions are: more and better jobs for
    women; gender issues in collective bargaining; equal pay for work of equal
    value; access for women to promotion; gender awareness for men and women union
    members and employers; combating violence against women at work; life-long
    education for women, in particular vocational training.
  • Unions need women as much as women need unions. Organising women workers in
    both the formal and informal sectors is a high priority for the ICFTU and its
  • Ensuring the full integration of women into trade unions and promote gender
    parity in activities and decision-making at all levels is one of the
    constitutional aims of the ICFTU.
  • Conference Programme


    Unions For Women; Women For Unions


  • Unions for Women: Getting the Unions to Work for Women
  • Women for Unions: The Force of the Future
  • Objectives

  • Provide policy guidelines for the ICFTU, bearing in mind the holding of the
    18th World Congress in 2004;
  • Develop concrete, innovative strategies to a) make trade unions relevant to
    working women today; and b) enhance women’s key role in building and
    strengthening trade unions;
  • Promote exchanges of information and experience between women trade
    unionists’ and
  • Build and strengthen women’s solidarity networks both inside and
    outside the trade union.
  • Monday, 17 February

    09.30-18hrs: Registration

    15.30-18hrs: Briefing for Chairs, Rapporteurs, Facilitators, Panelists and Resource Persons

    19hrs: Welcome reception

    Tuesday, 18 February

    09.30: Opening ceremonies: Speakers: Sharan Burrow, ACTU President; Guy Ryder, ICFTU General Secretary; Helen Creed, Chair of ICFTU Women’s Committee

  • Keynote speech: Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Cultural presentation
  • 11.00: Break

    11.30: Conference objectives, programme, method, schedule

    Introduction of Conference officials and staff

    11.50: The ACTU and women: presentation

    12.20: Announcements

    12.30 Lunch

  • Press Conference
  • Sub-theme 1: Unions for Women: Getting Unions to Work for Women

    14.00: Are unions ensuring equality of treatment and opportunities for women in the global market? (a critical look at unions’ role in promoting workers’ and women’s rights in the global economy)

  • Introduction (20 ms.): Women in the global economy: still worlds apart?
  • 3 respondents: will react to introduction, critically rating the union
    movement’s responses in their region/sector (8 ms. each)
  • Contributions from the floor: total – 40 ms.
  • Summing-up: 5 ms.
  • 15.30: Break

    16.00: Panel: Unions reaching out to working women (case studies focused on organising young women, migrant/ethnic minority, a-typical workers; also assess mid-term progress of 3-year Global Unions’ organising campaign)

  • Moderator and 3 panelists: 40 ms.
  • Contributions from the floor: total: 40 ms.
  • Summing up: 5 ms.
  • 17.30: Session ends

    19.00: ACTU Reception

    Wednesday, 19 February

    09.00: Ice-breaker

    09.15: Summary of previous day’s proceedings by Daily Rapporteur

    09.30: Working groups (groups decide coffee break)

    12.30 Lunch

    14.00: Summary of working groups’ conclusions and recommendations

  • 5 reports: 10 ms. (each) maximum.
  • Clarifications/adoption
  • 15.15: Break

    Theme 2: Women for Unions: The Force of the Future

    15.45: Looking back: from positive action to mainstreaming, from women’s issues to gender issues

  • Introduction: Nancy Riche, former Chair of ICFTU Women’s
  • General discussion
  • 17.30 Session ends

    Free evening for sectoral/regional gatherings and Networking

    Thursday, 20 February

    09.00: Ice-breaker

    09.15: Summary of previous day’s proceedings by Daily Rapporteur

    09.30: Panel: A women’s place is in her union: effective strategies for building stronger, more democratic trade unions through equality and solidarity (Focus on case studies initiated and implemented by women’s and equality committees/ departments: organizing and maintaining members, training and education, collective bargaining, transforming union culture and structures, specific campaigns – e.g. maternity protection, equal pay, health and safety at work)

  • Moderator and 3 panelists: 45 ms.
  • Contributions from the floor: 40 ms.
  • Summing up: 5 ms.
  • 11.00: Break

    11.30: Looking outwards: the role of union women in strengthening civil society for bread, freedom, peace and equality

  • Panelists: 2 unionists; 2 NGOs, followed by general discussion
  • 13.00: Lunch

    14.30: ICFTU-APRO Presentation: Women Workers in Asia and the Pacific

    15.00: Working groups (groups to decide coffee break)

    17.30: Session ends

    19.30 Cultural evening

    Friday, 21 February

    09.00: Ice-breaker

    9.15: Summary of previous day’s proceedings

    09.30: Summary of workshop conclusions and recommendations

  • 5 reports, 10 ms. (each) Maximum
  • Clarification/adoption
  • 10.45: Break until afternoon session starting at 15hrs. (meetings, visits to union offices, etc.)

    Drafting Committee prepares draft Conference Conclusions and Recommendations (translation/printing)

    15.00: Presentation of Draft Conclusions and Recommendations


    16.30: Closing ceremonies with ACTU Choir

    Press Conference


  • Each session will be chaired by a different person (regions will
  • Each region will be assigned to conduct an ice-breaker (song, dance,
    exercise, etc.).
  • In plenary, if technical arrangements permit, there will be 6 micros on the
    floor; sisters – one per delegation, per session – will line up to
    speak. Chair will recognise speakers.