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Women leading the way at the TUC

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Ruth Davies, NAHT national vice president 2019-20, shares her experience of attending the TUC's Women's Conference.

Each year, the TUC holds its inspirational Women’s Conference to coincide with International Women’s Day. This year, the theme was ‘sisters standing strong’, with trade union activists coming together to raise, debate and vote on the issues that matter to women in the workplace. 

NAHT president Judy Shaw and I were delighted to take the opportunity to attend and represent the women in our movement.  

Although NAHT neither presented any motions nor spoke in support of them, many of their key themes resonated strongly with our current campaign priorities. 

2020 celebrates the 50th anniversary of women’s rights being protected in law, and with 15.5m women now in employment across the UK, an all-time high, there is indeed much to celebrate. 

However, the conference reminded us to temper celebrations. More women than ever may be in employment, but inequity undoubtedly still exists, and 50 years on, the battle for equality of power and flexible working arrangements continues. 

It is essential to be aware of the needs of particularly vulnerable groups. For instance, gender pay disparity is greatest for those older than 50 years of age, and inequality within pensions continues. The UK has achieved notoriety as it retains one of the highest pension ages among OECD nations. As we seek to improve not just women’s working conditions but the rewards to which they are entitled as well, trade unions need to continue to engage employers in robust dialogue, calling out those who wilfully ignore the law. 

Frances O’Grady spoke inspirationally about the value women bring to our working communities, and she pledged to push back hard on “racist, sexist, far-right ideologies” that threaten equality in the workplace. 

She called out the current government for the apparent conflict between its promise to “level up rights” and the falling life expectancy for working women. It is, she said, “time to change workplace culture for good”. 

We were left in no doubt that this bold aspiration lies within our grasp. 




This is just one of the many diversity conferences that the TUC holds, and which NAHT, as an affiliate member, is able to send delegates too. If you are interested in representing NAHT at any of the below events, contact policy@naht.org.uk

  • TUC's Black Worker’s Conference (London) - Friday 24 April until Sunday 26 April
  • TUC’s Disabled Workers’ Conference 2020 (Bournemouth) - Thursday 21 and Friday 22 May
  • TUC's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and trans + (LGBT+) conference (London) - Thursday 25 June to Friday 26 June 2020.
The theme of NAHT’s annual conference (Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 May 2020 in Cardiff) will be around diversity


First published 10 March 2020