Solidarity and Empowerment of Women Workers in Asia

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Jinyoung PARK , Cornell University
Solidarity has been stressed as one of the most important tools for powerless and marginalized groups of people let alone labor movements. Pressures from globalization create additional demands for workers and activists to extend their solidarity cross the borders. This is not only because globalization has created problems that connect people's lives across national boundaries, but also because it has produced many situations and cases in which workers, and activists face similar problems and circumstances, making sharing and learning from each other useful. Based on my experience working at the Working Women Academy (WWA), I will discuss some of challenges and key issues of cultivating international solidarity among women workers in different countries.  WWA is a women’s group in Korea that provides training for grassroots female activists in Asia such as worker-to-worker exchange, capacity building trainings and political education on issues such as gender inequality. The programs are carefully designed in advance to meet the needs and interests of participants as much as possible through pre-visits and pre-surveys. For example, Chinese workers visited Korea to learn and discuss issues related to organizing women workers in 1970s and 1980s, which they could apply to their current organizing efforts. The training programs, which consist of workshops, field visits and intensive discussions in participatory methods, have prioritized  the continuity of participants over a series of trainings which take place over a 7 to 9 month period. During this period, participants are encouraged to exercise training contents and to bring their experiences back to the next training. Language barriers have been one of biggest challenges. But the programs always provided translators and utilized focal persons for in-between communications.