March is Women's History Month. It’s an opportunity for us to take a look at some of the rich stories of the women that inspire us.
Women have often been written out or sidelined in the history books, yet it is impossible to understand our modern society without recognising the considerable contributions that women have made. Women's History Month was therefore created as a way of celebrating and documenting these forgotten histories.
It's as important now as it was on the first Women's History Month - we're 51 years on from the Equal Pay Act yet parity of pay remains elusive. Sexual harassment, domestic abuse and discrimination remain key issues for society to tackle. The pandemic has pushed many women out of the workplace due to low pay or precarious work, bearing the larger share of childcare responsibilities. Hard to believe we're talking about the 2020s.
We want a better future for women. We want to empower women, recognise their contributions and ensure we have a diverse society where everyone's contributions are celebrated and recognised equally. That's why Accord is launching a women's group.
Only got a few minutes? Skip to other sections of interest: Celebrating the contributions of women trade union activists, read about the TUC Women's Conference or find out about domestic abuse support and how you can help 'reach in'.
International Women's day
International Women's Day takes place on the 8th March every year. It's a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge: every day each of us has responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. We can make decisions that challenge inequality. From challenge comes change, so it's time to choose to challenge.
This International Women’s Day, we ask our members to take a moment to challenge themselves and others - it doesn't take much.
- Show your support on social media using the tags #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021
- In meetings, allow women to speak uninterrupted - women are more likely to have their contributions in meetings interrupted than men. Set ground rules for meetings and use technology, after all the raise hand option was created for a reason.
- As a people manager you'll need to know how to be approachable to talk about the impacts of the menopause. One in four women say they get no support from their manager, yet every woman will go through the menopause. The CIPD have a great guide on how to support your team members.
- Recognise contributions from women in your team. Whether you're the manager, or a colleague, consider if you're given kudos where it's needed including in pay and reward decisions.
Celebrating the contributions of trade union activists
For this year's Women's History Month, Accord's Equality Diversity & Inclusion group decided to focus on the contributions of trade union activists and celebrate the contributions they're making in order to inspire others. We know it's important for us to have role models to inspire, educate and encourage those that may not ordinarily wish to be seen in the spotlight. Accord is an inclusive union and represents members from diverse backgrounds.
We've pulled together three interviews and blog posts from other trade union activists.
Interview with Paula Tegg
Accord's Assistant General Secretary, Paula Tegg, reflects on her 26 years as a trade union activist, and offers encouragement to the next generation of leaders.
Interview with Carol Knowles
We caught up with Carol Knowles, Vice-President of Accord, to talk about her time as a union rep and as a member of the Principal Executive Council (PEC).
Interview with Claire Mullaly
In case you missed it during LGBT+ History Month in February, we caught up with Claire Mullaly, rep for Prospect union, to discuss her LGBT+ activism and her work through the TUC LGBT+ committee.
The leader with a roar
In 1978, Jayaben Desai led 100 women in a dispute against the Grunwick photo processing factory. Here’s how Jayaben became a heroine in trade union history.
From canteen to leadership
Gladys Branche is a heroine of Sierra Leone’s trade union movement. What did she do to gain that status? She picketed the college dining hall. Hear her story.
BBC teaching resources
To celebrate Women's History Month, and International Women's Day, the BBC has put together a collection of teaching resources for primary and secondary school children.
TUC Women's Conference
On the 3rd-5th March, the TUC hosted its first virtual Women's Conference to debate issues such as the unequal impact of Covid-19 on women, ending gender-based violence and winning workplace support for survivors of domestic abuse. The event was open to union members, and we know many of you attended. We'll cover more about this in our next magazine which will be available to members in the coming weeks.
You'll find many other interesting events listed on our website. Check them out through the link below.
Launching our women's group
Rep and Principal Executive Council (PEC) member, Lucy Maller, recently attended a Women in Leadership school run by the TUC. Following on from this, Lucy is organising the launch of an Accord Women's group - a safe space for women to share their experiences, help Accord to continue to tackle inequality and encourage women to get involved in the union and the conversation about equality.
So, what are you waiting for? Register your interest now.
The course is aimed at women trade union reps who want to develop their leadership positions within the trade union movement. At Accord, we recognise the value of continual development, and we encourage our reps to attend relevant courses and conferences that build skills for the future. We've promoted a further Women in Leadership course running from May 2021 in the Midlands - contact [email protected] for more.
"This month we have celebrated women’s history month and international women’s day. In Accord, we have more women members than men, so with this in mind, Accord want to set up a Women’s Group, because women’s issues are trade union’s issues." - Lucy Maller
Anybody can be subject to domestic abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, or other socio-economic or personal characteristics. Abuse is most commonly within domestic relationships, but it can also be within close family groups such as parents to children. We often think of violence and threats when we think about domestic abuse, but there are many forms including financial abuse and emotional abuse such as gaslighting.
Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it.
Women are still at significant risk of domestic abuse, with two women killed every week by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. Every year, 2 million adults in the UK suffer from some form of domestic abuse. By the time kids first attend school, at least one child in every classroom will have been living with domestic abuse since they were born. The stats are startling, yet 85% of victims seek help five times on average before they get effective support. We might not be able to prevent an abusive relationship, but we can make sure that we pay attention - nobody should have to get to a point of crisis before we do.
In February 2021, Accord invited SafeLives, a UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, to talk to our staff and the Principal Executive Council (PEC) about domestic abuse, recognising it, and how to support survivors. You can take a look at the information that was shared with us.
Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on those living inside abusive relationships. Trade unions believe that domestic abuse is a workplace issue - work is a refuge, and the pandemic restrictions mean that many women are locked in their homes with their abusers. Calls to domestic abuse support services have spiralled as many have struggled, isolated from their support networks. It's therefore never been more important to reach in and support those around you - including those who you may work with.
During the pandemic, SafeLives launched a campaign called 'reach in' which gives you some simple information on how you can have supportive conversations with those at risk of, or survivors of abuse.
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline:
- National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline - call 0800 999 5428 - or email [email protected]
- Further information from Galop
- Emergencies - always dial 999 if it is an emergency and you think you are in immediate danger. Silent calls to the police will work if you are not safe to speak – use the Silent Solution system and call 999 and then press 55 when prompted. Stay on the line.
- The TUC offer a free online guide for reps - check it out in our online training centre or search our resources
- Check out the government's Covid-19 guidance on getting help for domestic abuse
About the ED&I Group
The Accord Equality Diversity & Inclusion group’s aim is to ensure every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to maximise their potential, regardless of background, and to be treated with dignity and respect. It’s a place where diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are welcomed and cherished without prejudice or judgement. It’s also a chance to collectively learn from our experiences, allowing us to remove barriers and enrich each other’s lives.
The group has a calendar of activities we'll be getting involved in across the year on a broad spectrum of topics. If you’re interested, why not get involved — email us at [email protected] or register to join online.