Why Women’s Committees?
Will Women ever be equal? Sometimes social change seems so slow. But, more and more unions are discovering that active women’s committees realty do make things happen.
The existence of a women’s committee lets everyone know that women’s rights is an important union issue. It’s a point around which women’s rights activists can rally and to which uninvolved women can gravitate. The existence of a committee lends credibility and unity to their concerns.
A women’s committee also makes sense strategically. Research, analysis and actions on all those concerns that get labeled ‘women’s issues’ can be coordinated in the committee. A women’s committee can be a power base from which equality demands are made and policies that promote women’s rights are advocated.
Women’s committees are needed throughout the union structure, Local women’s committees, regional women’s committees, regional women’s committees, component women’s committees, and the PSAC Equal Opportunities committee can all make useful contributions to a union women’s rights movement.
As part of a larger network of women’s committees, local women’s committees should reflect the role played by locals in a larger union structure. Local women’s committees can actively seek to involve women members in the activities of their union. They can identify the issues that are of particular concern to the women of their local and mobilize around them. They can act as resource centers on such items as sexual harassment and childcare. Local women’s committees can initiate convention resolutions and bargaining demands that pertain to the needs of women members.
Typical Activities of a local women’s committee might include:
- Identify barriers that prevent women from participating fully in the union and recommend to the local Executive specific ways to eliminate those barriers.
- Help women develop the skills to run for union office.
- Show films on women’s issues at lunch-break.
- Organize a local library on women’s issues.
- Report to the Executive and membership on events and developments in the women’s community.
- Draft equality bargaining demands and document supportive evidence.
- Provide representation on sexual harassment grievances.
- Monitor the implementation of affirmative action measures.
- Organize a local International Women’s Day celebration.