International Women's Day: time for women to step forward

Mark and PCS president Fran Heathcote blog on International Women's Day about the importance of women getting involved in the union - and promise a warm welcome!

Today is International Women’s Day – celebrated by women in many countries as far back as the early 1900s, but formally proclaimed as 8 March in 1977 by the United Nations General Assembly.

This year’s theme is #EachforEqual which draws on the idea of ‘collective individualism’ - the powerful notion that we are all parts of a whole; our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on wider society.

And that’s exactly what trade unionism is all about: individual workers coming together as a collective to strengthen our power to achieve change at work and in society.

Of course, women have played a key role in the trade union movement since its inception. The month of March is also Women’s History Month and the PCS theme is “A Woman’s Worth”.

It’s worth remembering that the first ever strike for equal pay was organised by 1,500 women card-setters in Yorkshire in 1832. Yet still we fight for equal pay.

But trade unions have not always been a welcoming place for women. In 1875, the aim of trade unionism, according to the secretary of the TUC, was: " bring about a condition...where wives and daughters would be in their proper sphere at home, instead of being dragged into competition for livelihood against the great and strong men of the world."

Fortunately, women didn’t put up with that!

With women making up over 60% of our membership, PCS is striving to increase women’s participation, removing barriers to becoming active, standing for election and being a representative. For any collective organisation to be relevant and influential, its activists and leadership must be representative of its membership. So, on International Women’s Day 2020, our message to women is, please think about stepping forward into a union position. And our commitment to you is that you will be welcomed and supported.

Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create an equal world. Happy International Women’s Day!

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