UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Northern Region TUC Reclaims the Night‏

On an inclement night over 200 people came together in Durham to Reclaim the Night. The march through the town had a carnival atmosphere, and members of the public showed their support. A packed rally of people from across the Northern Region heard from Durham City MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Bridget Philipson, Head of Women in Need, Sunderland, and Labour candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, along with Clare Williams, Chair of the NTUC Women’s Group, and UNISON Regional Convenor and NEC member.

With 1 in 4 women affected by domestic violence at some point in their life, and on average 2 women a week being killed by their male partner the campaign to end violence against women is one that must continue to be prioritised.

All three speakers spoke of the need to continue the campaigning work to eradicate violence against women. There is a need to improve the rate of conviction for rape, and the Government is reviewing rape law. The continuing sexualisation of women in society also must be challenged as there is clear evidence showing that this feeds in some of the prevailing behaviours and views about violence against women.

Overall the North East has the highest proportion of low paid workers; has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK outside London, and Teesside has the highest rate of domestic violence in the North of England.

Clare Williams spoke of how women continue to be disadvantaged on every single measure of economic welfare from employment, pay, pensions and assets, and with clear evidence of a link between poverty and the prevalence of domestic violence and abuse against women the need to challenge inequality is paramount.

Trade unions are the largest voluntary membership organisation and there are 400,000 trade union members in the Northern Region, which remains the region with the highest density in workplaces. As such challenging inequality and working to eradicate violence against women is rightly top of the trade union agenda. An important part of this is to ensure all workplaces have workplace policies to support women subjected to domestic violence and abuse, as well as training trade union activists in this area of work.

Eradicating violence against women is everybody’s business, and will be achieved by collective action. That’s why it’s important to support events such as Reclaim the Night, and to make sure trade unions keep the eradication of violence against women at the top of their campaigning agenda.