Building Trade Union Power with Gender Equality: The Case of the Unified Workers’ Central of Brazil
The Unified Workers’ Central (Central Única dos Trabalhadores, CUT) of Brazil, one of the world’s largest trade union federations, the most important in Latin America, and the country’s most representative, in 2015 implemented gender parity in its decision making bodies at national and state level. With this step it put itself at the forefront of the trade union movement where gender equality is concerned, being one of the few organisations to have adopted such a measure. Gender parity marks the culmination of a long construction process of more equal gender relations which started with the CUT’s foundation in 1983 and of which the minimum quota for either sex at its Executive Committee, adopted in 1993, is one of the most outstanding examples. Female workers have acquired associational and institutional power and have extended the social power of the CUT, which legitimates itself as the defender of women’s rights. Parity is understood in the sense of political parity including gender equality with respect to the possibilities of participation, overcoming obstacles like the gender division of labour, a male chauvinist culture and the imbalance in the distribution of positions.