Patricia Nyman SACCAWU - South Africa

My story of activism goes back to the days of apartheid and heightened struggles in 1976, when we as youth took to the streets, this led me to become involved in community and youth organizations.

We worked closely with the then unrecognized black trade unions, including supporting workers strikes, Against this background and my own first hand personal experience during my younger days of motivated me and awoke the passion and commitment to feminism and trade unionism. I believed that trade unions were the best strategic intervention to serve women and workers in general to improve their working and living conditions, at the workplace, home, community and society at large, especially fighting for women workers rights and justice against discrimination and harassment . I felt that I had the opportunity to contribute to make difference when I was employed by SACCAWU as an official in 1990, a young mother, moving from my home Cape Town to Johannesburg. In SACCAWU, I continued the foundation that was laid by other comrades on gender issues and worked tirelessly for the past 34 years to empower women, develop women leaders, mainstream gender issues, establish gender structures, development of gender policies and so on. SACCAWU has pioneered many concrete achievements for women. I also were fortunate to be part of a collective in COSATU that put gender and women as a priority, In Africa and international level, through SACCAWU I have made contributions and shared my experiences and knowledge with other Unions. For me there is nothing more inspirational when you can see a woman member’s burden of sexual harassment and gender based violence is lifted when the Union helps her to deal with it. As one member said “you have made me see light at the end of this dark tunnel” or a retired shopsteward says: “thanks to the Union for empowering me, now I can help in my community as an activist” “My mother was a kitchen girl, my father was a garden boy” as the Union song goes, that is why I am a trade unionist. ♫♫