CUPE Regional Vice-President Yolanda McClean and CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick outside UN headquarters.
CUPE Regional Vice-President Yolanda McClean and CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick outside UN headquarters. Photo: Hatnim Lee.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has concluded with governments across the globe committing to step up progress on women’s equality. CUPE attended the March meetings of the Commission in New York City, represented by CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick, CUPE Regional Vice-President Yolanda McClean, CUPE Human Rights Director Elizabeth Dandy, and Executive Assistant to the National Secretary-Treasurer Andrea Addario.

Our delegates joined over 100 other union women in an international labour delegation that held governments to account on ending and preventing women’s poverty, the key theme this year.

Governments spent two weeks negotiating an agreement to uphold international human rights for women and take meaningful actions that advance women’s equality and prevent women’s poverty. The labour delegation lobbied government negotiators to ensure our demands were reflected in their ‘agreed conclusions’ document.

“I was proud to represent our union at this crucial global gathering. Union women know what’s needed to advance women’s equality and we have to be at this international table to make our voices heard,” said Rennick.

Strong unions and quality public services are key to ending and preventing women’s poverty. The final agreement between governments includes a commitment to fundamental labour rights, including the right to form a union and the right to bargain collectively. It also recognizes the importance of International Labour Organization standards to end discrimination at work.

The agreement incorporates strong language on public services and the care economy, and highlights the need for progressive taxation systems that make corporations pay their fair share. Specific language focuses on the need to end the systemic oppression experienced by Indigenous women, women of African descent, women with disabilities and migrant women.

“Labour’s activism at this event is more important than ever given the growing corporate capture of the United Nations and the privatization pressure on governments and the UN. Far-right voices are also ramping up their influence on UN discussions with attacks on reproductive justice and gender diversity,” said Rennick.

Activists at a global feminist rally in solidarity with Palestine, held during the UNCSW. Photo: Hatnim Lee.
As well as pressuring governments, CUPE delegates joined a rally of women activists across from UN headquarters to express anger and anguish about the death and suffering of women, children and innocent civilians in Palestine, and to call for an immediate ceasefire.