Wednesday 8th March is International Women's Day, a global day of action and solidarity. The global theme for International Women's Day is "Be Bold For Change"
In our Union, Equal Opportunities & Diversity are areas of our activity which are devoted considerable attention. Our record in this respect is second to none. A wide range of facilities have been made available to members through our efforts in this regard.
However, in one significant area we have been unable to make sufficient progress. That is in the area of participation in the Union by women. Do we need to "Be Bold For Change"?
Women comprise just over 62% of our membership but this is not reflected in our representative structures.
- At Branch Committee level just 47% of our Committees are women.
- At Branch Officer level just 52% of our Branch Officers are women.
- Only 47% of the delegates to Annual Delegate Conference are women.
- Just 40% of the Union's Executive Committee are women.
- Just over a third of the delegates we send to the ICTU Conference are women.
- At Head Office all of our Administrative staff are women and all of our full time officials are men!
The only people who can change these levels of representation are ourselves. We cannot blame any employer for the fact that, in our representative structures, at every level, women are underrepresented.
There is an obligation on us to look at our rules; look at our nomination processes and decide if we need to adapt them to ensure that at every level women are enabled to participate in the affairs of our Union in more or less equal proportion to their membership of the organisation.
The preliminary agenda for Conference 2017 lists 23 nominees for election to our Executive Committee. Just 4 of these are women. Even if all 4 secure election women's representation on our Committee of management will comprise just 19% of the available seats. That is the same level as we had in 1992 – a quarter of a century ago.
With women making up 62% of our membership there is some serious ground to be made up.