The Role of Women Workers in National Reconstruction

In continuation of the celebrations carried out to commemorate the 30th year of the inception of the National Union of Eritrean Women, a final workshop organized by NUEW conducted in Asmara, at Hager Media Hall, Ministry of Information. The workshop executed under the common theme “Our Youths, Our Guarantees!” and focused on “The Role of Women Workers in National Reconstruction”. In the workshop, 140 women and 80 men attendants foregathered from different corners of the country.

The later paper was presented by Almaz Lijam, manager of the administration of Zoba Maekel.

She explained the part of women in national development, which is beyond a shadow of a doubt,

that must be evaluated in terms of balanced relationships and women as fertile and productive element of a society. In Eritrea, Ms. Almaz recollected, women workers emerged with the advent of colonials, especially during Italian colonization and were subjected to the lower and inefficient careers. In effect, those who were employed in Baratolo, Textile Factory, highly demanded for their legal rights to have more salary which they later succeeded to gain major changes. Furthermore, during our armed struggle, women were obtained proper education that enabled them to work in factories that founded in the liberated lands and became certified professionals. Thus they were able to be pivotal in the history of women workers. Finally,

The conference opened by Ms Tekea Tesfamichael, head of the NUEW Zoba Maekel. In her opening message Ms. Tekea prefigured that the workshop would assess the conditions of women workers in various sectors, as well as their preexisted roles and their future contributions in the overall national reconstruction. The sub-theme of the workshop, as Ms. Tekea announced, was “Enriching Our Potentials for Quality Production and Equal Benefits”. To foster the theme on the ground, women should acquire best education and profession to increase their qualitative contributions. Finally she concluded her speech by asking over the attendants to enrich the 7 research papers that presented in the workshop to answer the questions regarding women’s current efficiency in different careers, the changes so far registered and its magnitude and further steps that could be taken for more progressions in the topic of that day.

Ms. Luul Gebreab on her part emphasized that the workshop would be part of the corresponding meetings that had been highlighting the political, social and economical life of women, to commemorate the 30th year of the NUEW anniversary. She also remembered His Excellency, Mr. Issaias Afeworki’s message during the anniversary of the inception of the National Confederation of Eritrean workers providing theoretical explanation in regard with the relationship of the current

Ms. Almaz congratulated for the coordinators of the workshop for their efforts in revealing the roles of women in successive colonial eras, during liberation struggle and after independence. She closed her speech by reminding that there should be no more occupations that exclude women from taking part on it, in which her statement reinforced the NUEW’s strong principle.

situation of workers. Ms Luul as well stressed that they all will be abided by these theories so as to assess the circumstances of Eritrean women workers. The rationale behind this topic of discussion, according to Ms. Luul’s statement, was the strong motive that is existed in the government and its allies to equip Eritrean women with modern technology and knowledge to facilitate productivity that is the principal driving force of national development.

In the two days workshop 7 research papers prepared by different people from ministries and governmental organizations were presented one after the other. The general idea of the papers presented by Ms. Tekea Tesfamichael, head of NUEW Zoba Maekel, Mr. Mebrahtu Zewde from the Head Quarter of the NUEW, Mr. Hagos Mebrahtu, from Ministry of Labor, Ms Zeferework Fissehaye, from Ministry of Trade and Industry, Eng. Hermon Tesfalidet, Mr. Solomon Abraham, manager of Imperial Hotel, Azieb Birhane, from Head Quarter of the NUEW, were emphasizing to continue positive discriminations until women obtained competitive efficiency, to install gender sensitive systems in all ministries and governmental organizations and the NUEW to take the responsibilities to manage its implementations.

The paper delivered by Ms. Tekea Tesfamichael clarified the history of the Eri-Women Workers from the very out set. Women laborers, their participations and positions in factories, the challenges they usually faced as well as the practical solutions in respect of the modern technological installations. 6 decades ago in the world, women’s equal rights in work places, the consequence of work types in women’s health, equal pay for equal type of works etc… were women’s top questions. In effect several women’s rights movements flourished and protest for their contemporary structures of work. Hence they highly started to claim for change and indeed they succeeded. Ms. Tekea finally gave elaborate explanation regarding women workers’ major contributions in the battle for independence.

Mr. Mebrahtu Zewde, on the other hand, explored the existing situations of women workers and organization. The first things come atop, Mr. Mebrahtu said, is the question of efficiency. Efficiency comprises level of education and feasible professional standards. Those who have possessed competitive efficiency also need convenient grounds of work. Mr. Mebrahtu underscored that efficiency develops by recurrent trainings and courses in work places. Towards the end of his paper, he said that self initiation for self improvement is more than any thing endowed by a second person. He concluded his speech by pointing out the significance of organizing women in solving cultural, political, economical, and social problems.

Mr. Hagos Mebrahtu, on his part explicated the factors that affect women in their careers

including the maternity leave. The purpose of his paper was to explore the gender equality in work places and to provide auxiliary ideas in the implementations of equal opportunities and treatments in all dimensions of works. Women face discrimination though certain improvements scored in the previous decades. These discriminations are occurred in the form of human capital discrimination, employment discrimination, occupational discrimination, and wage discrimination, Mr. Hagos specified. He further stated some of the government laws that stand against any discriminatory actions, mostly thrust upon women in work places. Mr. Hagos finally suggested that convenient grounds should be created for women in order to make them competitive in markets and strengthen their participations either in higher posts or in effective vocations.

The paper succeeded the above stated one, was presented by Ms. Zeferewerk Fissehaye. Ms. Zeferework mainly focused on the influence of women participations in industrial sectors and National reconstruction. In most cases, women are enforced to toil in low careers with meager incomes. The works they engaged are of little importance as well as, hardly requiring high efficiencies. For this reason, with aging, the participation of women becomes dwindling in each year. The concerned body which observe for such issue although existed in the National Confederation of the Eritrean Workers, it has some frailties to attend these issues seriously, Ms. Zeferework complained. She finally pleaded for the cooperation of the NUEW and NCEW and other concerned bodies to solve every women complications in work places.

Engineer Hermon Tesfai, also presented a paper dealing with the role of women workers in construction sectors in National rebuilding. Women, with less number, participate in the overall

construction works especially in administrative and technical sections; however, limited partaking is scored in daily laboring. She further illustrated her accounts with numeric reports to show the monthly income of women, division of work, participation, educational level, and the trainings given to laborers. In effect, Ms. Hermon concluded, the number of women in the subordinated work places is appeared high, and in the contrary remains in its lower point in the interesting division of works. Mr. Solomon Abraham, on his part, presented a paper discussing women and the service provider organizations. Mr. Solomon gave detailed reports on the role of women in Hotel, electric, financial (banks, insurance, etc…), services with regard to their education, salary, and position.

Finally Ms. Azieb Birhane, appeared bringing a paper dealing with women workers in transportation and communication. Ms. Azieb remembered that during the independence struggle, women’s participations in transportation were 30%. Even after independence, the number increased slightly to 33% and more often, women serve as secretaries, sanitary workers, and store keepers, etc... Their participation in technical/mechanical and auto electricity is very less as usual. Even so, she is optimistic that the National Vocational Training Center, located in Sawa produced great number of women professionals in communication and transportation sectors that could fill the inadequacies existed.

Towards the end of the two days workshop, summary of all the papers presented to participants. The conferees finally conducted group discussions and presented one by one to give clarifications on the points given. The workshop ended after the participators passed constructive suggestions and recommendations.

Prepared by:-

Yacob Kiflu