Q. Is the main goal of the Task Force to build support for five (5) designated seats for women on the National Executive Board (NEB)?
A. No, it isn’t. The National Women’s Task Force has a much broader mandate. The proposal for five (5) seats for women on the NEB was the intent of resolution C-27 at the 2005 National Convention. The proposal for five (5) seats was seen as a temporary measure, not a permanent solution, to the immediate problem of under-representation of women on our National Executive Board. The resolution did not receive the two-thirds majority vote it needed to pass.
The idea behind a National Women’s Task Force, which was created with the adoption of resolution 106, is to discuss long-term solutions to the larger issue of women’s declining participation and representation in the union. The resolution directs us to consult broadly with CUPE members across the country to examine the full range of women’s equality issues and needs and how this may impact on their ability to participate in the union. We also want to ask our members what they see as possible solutions.
At this point, we cannot know what the outcome of the consultations will be. The National Women’s Task Force will be open to all suggestions put forward by our members.
Q. Is the Task Force really necessary? Haven’t women achieved equality in our union?
A. Women have made significant gains in our union over the last number of decades. We have had two women serve as national president. Women are active as members and leaders in our union. CUPE has championed issues
that are important to women workers such as pay equity, bargaining strategies
to improve women’s working conditions, and
a national childcare program.
Yet approximately two-thirds of our members are women and this is not reflected in the top leadership levels of our union. We need to ask why. And we need to ensure that we are not maintaining structures and practices in the union that make it more difficult for women to participate fully in our union.
Women still face many barriers in society, in the workplace and at home. We need to understand if there are structural or other barriers that prevent women from becoming activists and leaders in our union. We need the full diversity of women’s voices and leadership in our union to make our union stronger and to ensure we effectively respond to women’s issues.
Q. What is the make-up of the Task Force? Who do the Task Force members represent?
A. The 16-member National Women’s Task Force reflects the diversity of women in our union. We have women on the Task Force who represent young and older women, women of colour, a lesbian woman, women from small and large Locals, Francophone women, an Aboriginal woman, a woman with a disability, an immigrant woman, and women from each region of Canada. As a whole, the face of the National Women’s Task Force mirrors the diversity of women in our union.
The women were not selected to reflect the diversity of their region, but rather the diversity of the members across our national union. Each province, however, is encouraged to create regional subcommittees that reflect the diversity of women in their region.
Q. Why is the National President the Co-chair of a women’s task force?
A. The National President is Co-chair of the National Women’s Task Force to provide the support of the top elected leader to this important initiative. Having the National President – whether that person is a woman or a man – act as Co-chair of the Task Force demonstrates the importance that the national union places on this project.