Support for women’s self organisation; lost voices

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2019 National Women's Conference
25 October 2018

Conference believes that the strength and sustainability of all unions depend on the development of their activists. With 1 million women members, we also know that achieving equal rights for women is a long battle and whilst there have been gains over the last 25 years, women’s rights have never been more under attack than they are today.

UNISON is committed to working to fight the vicious and unnecessary cuts being imposed by government. Women have not faced a greater threat to their financial security and rights in living memory. Decades of steady, albeit slow, progress on equality is being dismantled, as cuts to women’s jobs and the benefits and services they rely on, turn back time on women’s equality. Now, more than ever, women’s self organisation, women members and activists need the support of their union as many women feel that their voices are not being heard and that they are not properly consulted on all matter related to women’s equality. Women feel that they are being silenced.

Women are the majority of the members in UNISON but remain the minority in terms of their visibility in union roles and throughout UNISON structures, compared with their proportion in membership. Conference recognises the work over the years to address this imbalance but believes that more needs to be done. As we celebrated 25 years of UNISON last year, the evidence that women’s equality at best is being rolled back and at worst is under attack, should be a signal to us to re-evaluate the resources supporting women’s self organisation. Indeed the TUC recognised a thinning out of specialised equality roles across the trade union movement as a whole.

In the first year whereby the role of UNISON branch women’s officer has become a Rule Book position, Conference believes that it would be timely to review the resources that are afforded to supporting women’s self organisation via our regional women’s committees, branch women’s officers as well as resources that ensure that UNISON can continue to campaign and meet the challenges facing our women members and women workers across the UK. Conference believes that 1 million women deserve to not have their rights rolled back and to have the necessary support to effectively meet these challenges.

Conference therefore calls upon the National Women’s Committee to work with the relevant committees and departments to;

1) Initiate a comprehensive review of the union’s support and resources at branch,

regional and national level for women’s self organisation to ensure that UNISON

is best placed to meet the challenges facing our women members.

2. Review the mechanisms for consulting with women members on issues that

directly impact on women’s equality rights.

3. The national women’s committee should report the findings of the review to

UNISON National Women’s Conference 2020.