Campaigning against the cuts in women’s services – Supporting women’s voluntary and community sector organisations

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2013 National Women's Conference
18 October 2012

Women are being doubly hit by the economic down turn and essential services are at risk of closure as a result of this government’s policies.

Women’s organisations in the third sector are large employers of women and their closure leads to a loss of specialist knowledge and expertise as well as jobs and services for women.

Research by the Women’s Resource Centre has uncovered the lack of understanding of the need for women-only and by women, for women services by the statutory sector and funders, and the need to address this to ensure that women receive appropriate, and often life-saving, services.

Conference welcomes UNISON nationally signing up to the why women? campaign run by the Women’s Resource Centre which works directly with women’s voluntary and community sector (WVCS) organisations to support their work and raise awareness about the funding issues they face. A motion supporting the campaign was also passed at Community Conference in March 2012 showing the unions’ support for this essential work.

The campaign calls on the government to put gender back on the agenda by:

1) acknowledging the systematic disadvantage women face because of their gender, and

2) publicly recognising the essential services and expertise the women’s voluntary and community sector provides.

It is important that UNISON and the Women’s Resource Centre work together to protect and strengthen the women’s sector.

Together we can support women’s organisations to:

a) change lives

b) promote equality and human rights

c) stop violence against women

d) provide women-only space

e) provide effective services that are value for money.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

i) Work with the National Executive Council to promote and engage with the why women? campaign.

ii) Encourage branches and regions to join the why women? campaign and engage with their members to support their local women’s organisations by building connections with organisations and networks and raising awareness of women’s organisations locally.

iii) Work with the National Executive and Million Voices Campaign to ensure that women’s voices and women’s services are involved in this campaign.

iv) Work with the Women’s Resource Centre to campaign for the development of guidelines for commissioners and procurement officers on working with women’s organisations to increase understanding of the role these organisations play in tackling social exclusion, health inequality and gender discrimination to ensure WVCS organisations are not discriminated against within tendering processes.

v) Work with the Community Service Group Executive to better understand the needs of the staff who work for WVCS organisations and use this as a recruitment opportunity for UNISON.