A message that must run through our union every single day

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to focus on the struggles that women face, but also to celebrate the successes of those who fight and women for gender equality and representation.

And in UNISON – despite the difficulties we face – we have much to celebrate. Because – against all the odds – so many of the issues that we’ve campaigned for on behalf of women members have seen substantial changes in government policy that will have a real impact on the lives of many of our members.

The criminal courts charge – which led many innocent people to plead guilty – has been dropped.

Victims of domestic abuse will still be able to get legal aid – meaning they won’t be forced to drop their cases or represent themselves in order to seek justice.

And the Supreme Court have recently ruled that our challenge to employment tribunal fees will continue, meaning there’s still a real chance we can stop the government from curbing the crucial right to take action against your employer.

We set ourselves the target of campaigning against plans to curb access to justice for women, and we have already achieved some notable successes.

That’s in part thanks (and this isn’t something I thought I’d say) to Michael Gove, who has been willing to listen to the concerns expressed by so many campaigners about limiting women’s rights in the courts.

Of course, there’s still so much to fight for.

On equal pay, despite government legislation, we still see a gender pay gap of more than 17%. Even in the public sector, that pay gap remains at over 11%.

And women still face considerable discrimination in the workplace. Whilst statistics show that there have been 83% fewer sex discrimination cases in recent years, that simply doesn’t match the experiences of women in UNISON or elsewhere. So we will continue to fight for greater access to justice for women in the workplace and at home, and against violence and abuse against women both in the UK and abroad.

Our union will always stand up and speak out on pay, on justice, on representation and on violence against women.

That’s a message that isn’t simply for International Women’s Day – it’s a message that must run through our union every single day.

And it’s one that we spread not only because our membership is predominantly female, but because it’s at the foundation of what trade unions are for. Standing together, in solidarity, with those who face injustice.