Sunday 8th March 2020
Today on International Women’s Day, we salute the struggle for women’s equality and the victories that have been achieved. Women have had to fight hard over the centuries – it is not that long ago that women were not allowed to own property, had no right to vote, were dependent on men for their livelihood and consigned almost exclusively to role of mother and wife in the home.
Above all, it was women in trade unions who broke the boundaries and forced gender equality onto the agenda. Thanks to them, the trade union movement – both women and men – have campaigned for meaningful change. Whilst we recognise the huge progress that has been made, especially the Equalities Act and the legal basis for women’s equality that exists in the UK today, there is still so much more to do.
Women continue to face discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, whether it’s the “glass ceiling” or the assumption that certain jobs are women’s jobs. Stereotyping is still strongly influencing the views women and men have about gender – just go into any toy shop to see! Sexual degradation of women in pornography is worse than ever, and young males all too often are growing up with regressive views about women’s sexuality and status, often influenced by social media. Women especially those in public life, are frequently targeted with vile misogynistic abuse.
Research conducted by our SHEFFIELD NEEDS A PAY RISE! campaign has found that 85% of the young women we interviewed in low wage precarious jobs have experienced sexual harassment and bullying – or worse- often from their boss. More reasons than ever to join a trade union!
Violence against women is as serious today as ever. Too many women and girls suffer physical, sexual or psychological abuse from their partners or other family members, and violent crimes like rape and other forms of sexual assault have effectively destroyed the lives of countless women.
Sheffield TUC is proud to stand with women on this special day, celebrating the victories but also redoubling the fight to achieve real freedom, equality and safety for women and girls in the future.
Bob Jeffery Martin Mayer
Martin Mayer is Secretary of Sheffield TUC. He can be contacted on 0776 107 8482