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Wednesday 12 April 2023 11.00 - 13.00
T-2 WOM03a An Inclusive History of Women’s Labour Activism: Forms and Scales of Organizing and the Politics of Women’s Work I
Volvosalen
Networks: Labour , Women and Gender Chair: Anne Cova
Organizers: Selin Cagatay, Jelena Tesija Discussants: Ulf Brunnbauer, Daniela Koleva
Moderators: -
Selin Cagatay : Gendering Adult Education in the Developing Word: Vocational Training of Women in Turkey, 1960s-1990s
This paper concerns the adult educational programs for the vocational training of women in Turkey from the 1960s until the 1990s. It discusses the formation and implementation of such programs by focusing on the actors involved, namely the state, labour activists in national and international unions, and global governance institutions, ... (Show more)
This paper concerns the adult educational programs for the vocational training of women in Turkey from the 1960s until the 1990s. It discusses the formation and implementation of such programs by focusing on the actors involved, namely the state, labour activists in national and international unions, and global governance institutions, and the interaction, conflict, and collaboration between them.

Women’s vocational training emerged as an agenda item for the ILO and the ICFTU in the 1950s and became a priority issue in the 1960s. From the 1960s on, educational programs for the vocational training of women workers in Turkey took a transnational turn with increased interaction between the state, labor activists, and international labor and global governance institutions. Members of the ICFTU Women’s Committee have visited Turkey several times, for example, providing seminars for trade union women and collaborating with them in formulating demands around educational programs. With reference to ICFTU and ILO policies, the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-??) problematized women’s lack of access to vocational training within a broader framework of women workers’ problems in the developing world. Growing cooperation between Türk-??, the ILO, the ICFTU and various state institutions became more complex in the 1980s and 1990s as a Women’s Bureau was formed under Türk-?? (1980) and vocational training gained a legal framework with the Law No. 3308 on Apprenticeship and Vocational Education (1986).

Analyzing these processes and events, the paper offers insight into how global inequalities and the differential treatment of women’s work in the developing world by international actors as well as the work of women labour activists operating on national and international levels have shaped the politics of adult education in a national context. In so doing, it denationalizes localized efforts to educate women workers and highlights the different forms and scales of politics and activism involved in the making of gendered labour education. (Show less)

Veronika Helfert : The Right to a Job: Austrian Women Labour Activists and the Question of Female Unemployment, from the Late-1940s to the 1980s
The share of Austrian women in gainful employment throughout the 20th century was around 40 percent on average, with only slight fluctuations and shifts in where women have worked. While in the 1940s and early 50s women have been treated as surplus on the labor market in Austria, the industrial ... (Show more)
The share of Austrian women in gainful employment throughout the 20th century was around 40 percent on average, with only slight fluctuations and shifts in where women have worked. While in the 1940s and early 50s women have been treated as surplus on the labor market in Austria, the industrial boom until the 1970s saw female labour as an integral part of the national economy. Deindustrialzation destroyed many women’s jobs in Western European Countries, and also Austria, which caused rising unemployment rates and put the issue on the forefront of women trade unionists’ concerns and political efforts.

In the proposed presentation, I address the question of vocational trainings and other instruments battling unemployment of working women in the textile and metal industries in relation to the changing economic conditions and job opportunities for women between the late 1940s and the 1980s. I connect the policies and strategies of women labour activists in trade unions, the chamber of labour and the state in an international context. I discuss the question of vocational training and (international as well as national) job placement for women not only as a matter of normative and regulatory policies but as an instrument to battle unemployment, to improve the income situation of working women, and to ultimately overcome gendered divisions in the labor market.

The presentation contributes to the emerging scholarship on women labour activists who engaged in and promoted vocational training by connecting it with other labour market instruments. It further engages with studies on labour activism enriching them with the perspective of activism within the Austrian corporative institutions. (Show less)

Ivelina Masheva : International Labour Standards and Local Realities: Women Workers and the Enforcement of Working Time Regulations in Bulgaria, 1920s-1940s
This paper looks closely at one of the key issues of interwar labour activism in Bulgaria – that of the discrepancy between progressive legislation and the actual working conditions. Key legislation on working time limits in Bulgaria was passed in connection to the 1919 ILO C001 Hours of Work (Industry) ... (Show more)
This paper looks closely at one of the key issues of interwar labour activism in Bulgaria – that of the discrepancy between progressive legislation and the actual working conditions. Key legislation on working time limits in Bulgaria was passed in connection to the 1919 ILO C001 Hours of Work (Industry) Convention whose key achievements (the 8-hour working day or 48-hour working week) were also incorporated into the Neuilly-sur-Seine Peace Treaty (1919), which ended Bulgaria’s participation in the First World War. Although translating international norms into national legislation was relatively quick and easy (the ILO convention was ratified in 1921 and came into force in February 1922) the enforcement of the laws proved to be a difficult and prolonged process. Right until the end of the Second World War diverse social groups such as unorganized women workers, trade unions and labour activists with various political affiliations as well as the state through its labour inspections struggled to curb the rampant violations of the law. Violation of the working time regulations was an issue to which women workers were particularly sensitive due to their family and care responsibilities and they struggled for shorter working hours employing diverse strategies – from strikes and awareness raising campaigns to alternative forms of labour activism such as filing complaints with the labour inspections and through the court system.

Against the backdrop of concurrent debates around the implementation of the 40-hour week in Western Europe and internationally (in connection to the 1935 ILO C047 Forty-Hour Week Convention), the paper analyzes the discrepancy between law and reality within the context of the gap between core and periphery nations in terms of the international labour norms’ relevancy and applicability. (Show less)

Zhanna Popova : Halina Krahelska: Labour Inspector at Home and Abroad, 1919-1931
This paper investigates the career of Halina Krahelska, who was active in the Polish Labour Inspection since its inception in 1919 until 1931. Krahelska, by then already an experienced political militant, became the deputy chief labour inspector in Warsaw and was continuously invested in improving the conditions of women workers. ... (Show more)
This paper investigates the career of Halina Krahelska, who was active in the Polish Labour Inspection since its inception in 1919 until 1931. Krahelska, by then already an experienced political militant, became the deputy chief labour inspector in Warsaw and was continuously invested in improving the conditions of women workers.

Krahelska’s career provides a vantage point for an investigation of the early history of the Polish Labour Inspection and its policies towards women. Two crucial aspects of her activities contribute to this. First, she was one of the relatively few women labour inspectors in Poland and left extensive reports about the struggles for the rights of women workers, covering such issues as the introduction of day nurseries at textile factories and mitigation of health risks in the tobacco industry. Second, Krahelska was not only active on the national level, inspecting multiple factories across Poland, but also was involved in the international discussions regarding labour inspection and the rights of women workers. Thanks to a fellowship from the Rockefeller foundation, in 1929 she traveled to several Western European countries, researching their labour laws and welfare systems. She was also in contact with the International Labour Organization throughout the 1920s.

This paper, based on the published works of Krahelska and unpublished materials from her personal archive, as well as the archive of the Polish Labour Inspection, traces Krahelska’s career within the Inspection, while simultaneously highlighting the milestones of the Inspection’s policies towards women workers. With this paper, I aim to elucidate the implementation of labour norms in independent Poland, while also tracing international connections of the Polish Labour Inspection in the domain of women’s labour rights. (Show less)



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