This year’s TUC Women’s Conference celebrated 150 years of the TUC fighting for women’s rights and throughout the three days we heard stories of inspirational women who made a difference for other women, men and children in work and in their communities. 2018 also marks 100 years since some women got the right to vote. In the light of revelations about systemic misogyny and sexual abuse in many industries this year’s conference understandably featured a number of motions around the topic of sexual abuse.
Napo sent two delegates to the conference this year, myself and Ikki Bhogal from West Yorkshire Branch. Napo’s motion calling for a menopause awareness campaign to end the stigma and make it easier for women to discuss their needs in the workplace was composited (or joined up with) another similar motion by USDAW. The composited motion proposed by USDAW and seconded by Ikki – making an excellent speech – was carried. We look forward to the campaign by the TUC which will supplement some of the work Napo has already begun on the impact of menopause and reproductive health issues on women in the workplace.
Amongst a wide range of other motions pay featured heavily, with motions to stop the public sector pay freeze, to end the gender pay gap and address in-work poverty all being carried. There were various motions around mental health and domestic violence and we will wait with interest to see the policies and campaigns that come from these. There were several motions relating to sexual abuse and sexual harassment and a panel discussion around sexual harassment in the workplace which included a report on research done by the NEU (newly formed National Education Union) and UK Feminista about sexual harassment in schools. The NEU has launched an excellent campaign around this, one to look out for if you have any children in secondary school.
One of the highlights of the conference was a short but very inspiring speech by Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. Dawn had delegates on their feet proclaiming ourselves to be “phenomenal women”. The TUC Women’s Conference is an excellent way to get more involved in the wider trade union movement and to be inspired into activism. All speakers are welcomed and supported and the atmosphere is one of genuine sisterhood.
National Vice Chair