International Women's Day 2024

07 Mar 2024
by Annette Mansell-Green

International Women’s Day is an important day in my calendar and those of women trade unionists from across the movement.

I am writing this as I attend the annual TUC Women’s Conference on behalf of the BDA. I am joined this year by Rachael Hawthorne, trade union rep and Northern Ireland representative on our Trade Union National Executive Committee.

This conference is the only democratic event of the year that brings together women who represent women in the workplace, in society and across the world and as such I have come to call it the annual Parliament of women.

The TUC has always held this conference to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March as the connection is intrinsic and significant. We come together to debate motions which in turn become policy to be enacted by the TUC women’s committee which I currently chair.

The conference is also a great opportunity to network with women from other unions and discuss our common issues and exchange ideas. We hear from high profile politicians and campaigners who work with us in partnership to make positive change for women.

Issues on the agenda this week include violence against women and girls at work, in their own unions and across the world. We heard from women in Gaza and Israel about the appalling situation which is causing malnutrition as there is a severe lack of food across Gaza along with a lack of drinking water. We heard that 240,000 children are suffering malnutrition and people are resorting to eating animal food, dead horses, rotting potatoes and grass. The National Union of Journalists raised that to date 137 journalists have been killed whilst reporting from Gaza.

One of the strengths of the trade union movement is that we are able use our collective voice to support women trade unionists who are facing disaster, war and discrimination. Last year we heard from women in Ukraine and took supportive action as a result.

Of course, we are also debating other issues of importance to women at work and the BDA has brought 2 motions to the agenda on menopause at work and carers’ rights at work. Also on the agenda for debate are pensions, sexual harassment, women in STEM, student debt for healthcare students, and flexible working - all issues of importance to BDA members.

International Women’s Day is a dedicated day when everyone is reminded of the experiences, successes and continuing demands for women wherever they live or work. As a union of majority women, we understand that our members deserve better rights, protection from violence and discrimination, to feel safe and respected in the workplace and to be rewarded and recognised with equal pay and opportunities for career progression.

Whilst women are still fighting for equal rights, equal treatment and to be able to live in a safe environment we will continue our work and we will celebrate those remarkable women who came before us and achieved such positive change such as the right to vote, maternity leave, the legal right to equal pay, the right to belong to a trade union and so much more. International Women’s Day highlights those women along with those who continue to demand better.

Related topics