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Zenroren Women's Committee holds its Annual Conference

- Eliminate poverty, defend peace, living conditions, right to live, let the Constitution guide, and stop a consumption tax increase!

- Achieve gender equality and establish rules for work with dignity!

PhotographThe Women's Committee of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) held its 21st Regular Conference on September 11-12 at the Zenroren Hall in Tokyo and adopted an action plan for the year to come as well as the course of action for the 2010 autumn struggle. It also elected its new officers. A total of 223 delegates and observers took part in the two-day Conference.

The deputy head of the Women's Committee, SUMIDA Kiyoko gave the opening speech. She said the initiative the Women's Committee took last year in sending representatives to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has helped increase the movement. She also said the Women's Committee is organizing a tour of Nordic countries to study advanced experiences in welfare services. She called on participants to take active part in the movement in the international context.

Conference Declaration (Text)

We held the 21st Conference of the Zenroren Women's Committee on September 11 and 12, 2010 at a time when we are experiencing upheavals taking place in and out of the country. The Conference reviewed its activities for the past year and established working plans and structure for the movement in the year to come for women workers to continue to work proudly to achieve women's equality and establish respect for human rights for everyone, guided by the Constitution of Japan.

Our movement to seek change in politics has forced the Liberal Democratic-Komei coalition, which is responsible for the disastrous neo-liberal "structural reform" policies, out of government. However, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)-led coalition government that replaced the LDP-Komei coalition is now disappointing many people for failing to respond to their demands. This was why the DPJ suffered a crushing defeat in the recent House of Councilors election. In the ongoing process to elect a new DPJ leader, campaigners are emphasizing the need to cut the number of Diet seats and the need to raise the consumption tax rate rather than the need to solve the problems of widening economic inequalities and the hardships which many working people are experiencing. We must be alert for their call for child care services to be based on market forces. If we are to force the government to implement policies in the interest of the public, we should do work to increase cooperation between trade unions and the general public.

Our Conference reaffirmed that women are involved in lively activities. Delegates spoke about women who led the effort to collect signatures in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons and their contribution to the New York activities held during the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The NPT Review Conference adopted a final document calling for concrete development to be achieved toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons. This paved the way for the UN General Secretary to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima for the first time. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The Okinawans' struggle to shut down the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and nationwide solidarity with Okinawa are growing throughout the country. Let us work together to build a Japan without foreign military bases by holding fast to the Constitution's war-renouncing Article 9.

The Conference helped delegates realize how resilient women are. Their experiences in the tenacious struggle to assert women's equality and oppose dismissals gave all participants in the Conference encouragement. Many delegates spoke about the importance of the movement for education that values every individual as well as the protection of the state of motherhood and improvement in child care services.

Discussion in the Conference convinced that a society in which women can live and work proudly is a society in which everyone can work with confidence and in high spirit. There has been an advance in the effort to apply the Child Care and Family Care Leave Act to workplaces. Let us work even harder in places of work as well as local communities to win an overhaul of the Worker Dispatch Law and improve conditions for women to continue to work while taking care of family. 2010 is year to establish the third plan to promote equal opportunity and treatment between men and women in employment. Let us increase the struggle to press the government to revise the relevant civil laws and take other measures in response to the recommendations by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women as swiftly as possible.

The Conference has made us convince that women have power to expand cooperation with friends. Delegates shared anger, suffering and joy despite their being from different organizations. Local activities are organized in a creative manner to make participants feel happy. Speeches by delegates were encouraging. Numerical strength is source of power. Let us increase women union membership and further develop the movement in solidarity with all women in Japan and internationally.

Let us take impressive experiences as well as knowledge we had in this Conference back to our respective workplaces. Let us meet next year by making the Women's Committee even bigger throughout the year.


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