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2008 National Women's Conference
31 January 2008

Conference notes the ‘Moving On up’ report published by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) IN March 2007 which found that Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi girls obtain better GCSE grades , including Maths and English than white British boys.

Yet Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women graduates seeking work are five times more likely to be unemployed than white British women graduates. The report also found that Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women of working age in the labour market are:

1)Far more likely to be unemployed than white women with similar qualifications

2)Not getting the same pay gains from higher education when working as equivalent males.

3)Less likely to reach senior positions than white women despite having better qualifications.

4)Women as a whole are still virtually absent from some jobs and over – concentrated in others, as are Black people, but it is worse for Black Women than it is for white women.

5)32% of all Bangladeshi women work in just five occupations compared to 24% of white women.

6)A greater number of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women work in the wholesale and retail sectors

7)28% of Caribbean women work in health and social work.

8)Some workplaces remain no-go areas for Black women, even in areas with significant Black populations

A high proportion of under 35 year old Bangladeshi, Caribbean and Pakistani women say they experience sexism, racism and discrimination at work and find it harder to get a job or get promotion than white women. There is also a bigger pay gap for Bangladeshi and Pakistani women and a lower glass ceiling for women from all three groups.

In its conclusions the report called for an investigation to explain why there are high rates of unemployment, difficulty in obtaining jobs and why higher qualifications do not translate into higher pay or senior level jobs for Bangladeshi, Caribbean and Pakistani women to the same degree as men.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with the National Black Members, NEC and TUC to:

a)Lobby the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) to continue research into the work outlined in the Moving On Up report.

b)Devise a UNISON campaign to challenge the greater levels of economic and, consequently, social disadvantage Black women experience.

c)Lobby the government to recognize and implement a living wage instead of the minimum wage, and assess its impact on the black women and their families.

d)Seek to influence the Confederation of Business and Industry (CBI) on the social economic value of improving working conditions and wages of this group of women.

e)Work with UNISON’s Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) to continue to develop and provide leadership training for Black women to support them to become more active in their branches.