Around three-quarters of UNISON members are women. UNISON’s women’s member group (known as a self-organised group) campaigns for equality in the workplace and for improvements to women’s rights in the workplace and in the wider community.
It also supports campaigns aimed at improving women’s lives – for example, to change the law to protect women experiencing domestic violence, or to raise awareness of health issues which mainly affect women.
As a member of UNISON, you have the support and guidance of thousands of other women members, who face the same workplace challenges as you. If you encounter issues such as the gender pay gap or denial of your maternity rights, UNISON can help you with practical information, support and legal advice.
Women’s role in UNISON
Our women members’ role is much wider than campaigning for equality and against harassment.
Becoming a member means that you encourage and organise activity in every aspect of the workplace. As the majority of members, and the majority of the workforce in the public sector, women form the largest voice in UNISON and lead the organisation in nearly every activity.
Proportionality for women
UNISON is committed to proportionality and fair representation of women at every level of the organisation. We take positive action to encourage women to be active within UNISON. This means:
- fair election processes for committees, right up to national level
- seats reserved for women (including low-paid women) to ensure their voices are heard
- training and education targeted specifically at women
- childcare and support for mothers and those with dependants
Women members are at the forefront of many of our most important campaigns. UNISON’s women members have successfully negotiated on issues such as domestic abuse, equal pay and maternity rights.
Getting involved in women’s issues
The national women’s conference is held every year in mid-February and brings together around 650 women for a series of seminars, meetings, workshops, debates and guest speakers.
The topics debated are wide-ranging and have a massive impact on the direction of UNISON. They include:
- women’s health;
- women united against fascism;
- surrogacy and IVF treatment;
- the portrayal of women in the media.
How women members are organised
Women members are organised into committees and groups at local, regional and national levels. UNISON’s women members also work informally with trade unionists in other countries, sharing experiences and supporting each other’s activities.