Women and the cuts – strategies for local campaigning

Back to all Motions

2017 National Women's Conference
13 October 2016
Carried as Amended

Research continues to show that the significant disproportionate negative impacts of the government’s austerity policies fall on women, particularly Black women and women who are low paid and/or from low income households (in which women dominate) despite government claims that the burden would be shared equally. Women are the primary carers for children and the elderly and provide unpaid labour where services have been cut. Women are likely to live in poverty because they make up the majority of workers in low paid and insecure work, or retire into poverty with barely subsistence pensions to live on.

Women have borne the brunt of central and local government austerity measures and policies since 2010. Gender inequality has widened as a consequence and according to the Women’s Budget Group the austerity measures planned for 2015 to 2020 are going to be ever more regressive. Research shows that by choosing to repay the deficit from cutting spending, rather than increasing taxation, further entrenches inequality. The 2016 Budget saw 86% of the savings from direct taxes and benefits coming from women’s pockets. By 2020, female lone parents and single female pensioners will, on average, have seen their living standards fall by 20%. (Women’s Budget Group).

Conference applauds UNISON on the work to date on raising awareness of and campaigning on the disproportionate impact on women of the government’s austerity measures. Conference recognises the work that UNISON and the national women’s committee undertake on behalf of women members and we congratulate national women’s committee on the women’s campaigning handbook which is updated every year after women’s conference. These resources are excellent but conference recognises that we could achieve more with regards to raising awareness of these issues and taking action on them, if we include more nationally coordinated local campaigning. For example, if women’s history month could be utilized each year to raise awareness of UNISION women’s campaigns, especially between now and 2020 that would help women members enormously at a local level. Women members and branch women’s officers would find it helpful to have access to ‘campaign flowcharts’, specific resources, contact lists, ‘do’s and dont’s’ of the chosen women’s campaign and to have those circulated to regional women’s committees for dissemination to branch women’s officers and other branch activists, with planned simultaneous ‘days of action’ being organised across the country.

Conference instructs the national women’s committee to work with relevant UNISON committees and departments, regional women’s committees and any other relevant internal or external agencies to;

1) Develop a new set of campaigning resources to include for example, a ‘campaign flow chart’, briefing sheet on how to make contact with and build relationships with local media and press, that can be tailored locally to meet the needs of specific women’s campaigns.

2) To play a lead role in deciding on a specific campaign as determined by the campaigning priorities set by national women’s conference.

3. To disseminate the relevant campaigning information for the specific campaign to regional women’s committees, for further development and planning of activities to run during women’s history month.