Thursday, 17 March 2011

WRC and our trade union sisters!

Women’s Resource Centre has been out and about around the country meeting and talking to trade union women about the why women? campaign and encouraging them to take information back to their regions, branches and trade union sisters.

We were at UNISON Women’s Conference in Harrogate in February where we had a stall and as delegates were also able to speak in favour of a motion on funding to violence against women services. It was great to see so many of the motions highlighting the impact of the cuts on women’s organisations and we urged everyone to find out about and support their local services through the campaign.

Next we had a stall and also ran a fringe event at TUC Women’s Conference in Eastbourne just after International Women’s Day. Over 50 women attended the fringe event which looked at how women and women’s organisations are already the real Big Society and had speakers from various trade unions, UNISON, GMB, PCS, and TUC, as well as Maternity Action and WRC. The speakers provided strong evidence on how the cuts disproportionately affect women and also spoke about the vital work that women’s services do, particularly during tough times. Ros Bragg from Maternity Action provided a perspective from a women’s organisation and spoke about the issue of maternity rights which are also at risk. The focus of the conference was ‘women against the cuts’ and again it was great to see motions addressing the cuts to services that women use and in support of organisations such as Abortion Rights and Rape Crisis (England and Wales).

Our last stop was at NUS Women’s Conference in Oxford where we ran a workshop on the affect of the cuts on women and how the why women? campaign can be used locally to support women and the services they use. It was great to see a new generation of feminist activists really engaged with the issues and ready to take the information back to their universities. Many were already involved in action around cuts in their areas and wanted information on how to ensure there was a gender perspective and facts and statistics on the specific impact on women.

At all the events we were able to give out our new trade union leaflet as well as various campaigning materials and had people signing up to stay in touch with the campaign. For more information on our work with trade unions see and for campaign materials and other information for students see

Thanks to all those that we met and your support – hope to see you next year!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Using CEDAW in the UK

CEDAW is the UN Women’s Bill of Rights. CEDAW stands for ‘the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women’ and 186 countries have ratified it worldwide.

During February the Women’s Resource Centre worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Rights of Women to present four events exploring ways CEDAW can be used in the UK. We held events in Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle and women came from across the UK.

Workshops were run by Rights of Women and the British Institute of Human Rights as well as by WRC and members of the CEDAW Working Group. The workshops included an introduction to using CEDAW and other human rights standards in work on violence against women, information on other international women’s rights instruments and international mechanisms in general, and how CEDAW and other tools can be used to lobby and make change locally.

The EHRC also talked about the Optional Protocol – a legal way an individual woman can bring her case directly to the UN if she has been discriminated against.

Every four years the UK Government have to submit a report about the steps they have taken to achieve real, substantive equality for women. Their next report to the UN CEDAW Committee will be published this summer.

Women's and human rights organisations and campaign-groups can submit shadow reports to have their voices heard by the UN. These events were a valuable opportunity to consult with regional women’s groups and offer them support to feedback into the next shadow report.

The women who attended offered important insights into the challenges facing the women’s sector and the women they support and they provided powerful case studies from their work. It was wonderful to meet so many women and we really enjoyed the training, but don’t just take it from us, see what the women who attended said about the events!