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Debate around CUPE’s National Women’s Task Force was forceful and positive during the 45th annual convention of CUPE Ontario.

Speakers at the mics, many of whom rose to speak for the first time ever at a convention, were unequivocal in their certainty that a commitment to fund the National Women’s Task Force recommendations must be made for the work of the committee to have an impact. Many also pointed out that the initiative must not only build power for women, but build power for the full diversity of women including women of colour, disabled, transgendered, queer and young women.

The National Women’s Task Force recommendations call for two new national officer positions and four new regional VP positions to ensure minimum representation of women on the National Executive Board. However as one delegate said: “This is just the starting point to ensure there are women sitting at our provincial and federal boards. Once that occurs, the real work will begin.”

Speakers from the floor made a number of recommendations, including proposing the set-up of an audit to measure progress, a model for smaller locals to implement the Task Force recommendations, as well as firm direction on how CUPE can campaign to bring out effective legislative changes to address rights issues in workplaces.

The Task Force launched its survey work on International Women’s Day in 2006. Over 4,653 CUPE members responded to the survey, making it the most extensive consultation ever held by CUPE. When asked why he was a co-chair of the Task Force, CUPE National President Paul Moist responded that his role has been to provide resources and put the full weight of the union behind the work of the Task Force.