First time delegate, Gill Duffy (far left) reports back from the Women’s TUC (pic: Janina Struk)
I had no idea what I had volunteered to attend – it was one of those moments when it seemed a good idea. Then I got thinking about it. A conference full of women when I’m used to attending events with nearly all male delegates. So this was going to be a real change.
I was pleasantly surprised – it turned out to be a room full of support and good feeling. A room full of strong passionate women not wanting the moon, just what is fair and right.
The conference was held at TUC Congress House in London with more than 300 women from 30 different unions. Each union was allowed to submit two motions.
The 47 motions and four emergency motions covered a range of topics including: zero-hour contracts, pay and poverty, the cost of education, No to Page 3, sexual harassment, personal protective equipment and getting women to vote in the next election.
Prospect submitted two motions on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the gender pensions gap.
The union also seconded a motion on the impact of employment tribunal fees which I had the pleasure of talking about. Standing and looking at the sea of women wasn’t quite as scary as I thought. But I was still glad when it was all over.
Delegates selected one motion by ballot to go forward to the TUC Congress. Prospect is proud that its gender pensions gap was chosen.
However, the motion dear to my heart is women in STEM and I am very proud that Prospect also feels passionate about this. We held a fringe meeting on Thursday evening and had two young apprentices talking and answering questions. They came over as two very capable women striving in what are thought of as ‘male jobs’.
I came away from the conference feeling inspired, if not a little humble. Looking back on my career, I have been bullied and discriminated against because of my gender. However, I haven’t been treated like a lot of women.
I have felt frustrated with the sometimes lack of understanding in the male species. Surely things should have got better by now? I wondered what my daughter’s career would be like. Will she look back and have the same issues? I hope not. In fact I hope there won’t be a need for a women’s conference!