Assistant General Secretary and Coordinator of the Gender Equality Committee of the BWU, Wilma Clement, speaking to the media.

BWU official: More women needed in leadership roles

Assistant General Secretary and Coordinator of the Gender Equality Committee, Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Wilma Clement, wants to see more women and young people in leadership roles within the trade union movement.

Speaking specifically to the BWU, she told the media yesterday morning, following the opening session of a seminar held at Solidarity House to commemorate International Women’s Day 2018, that they have recognised that though women have been playing very supportive roles within the Union, many have not moved forward to take on the leadership roles. As such, she said greater focus is being placed on women’s leadership this year, as they join the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.

To that end, she said if they are really going to promote gender equality, and expect to see the kind of social justice desired in the union and on the island, then attention must be paid to having more women and young people as part of the decision making process and in leadership positions.

“…Our women and our young people are particularly important to us because they are the future of the union and the future of the country. Our seminar this week will help the participants examine what leadership really is, and help them think about what do I really need to do to prepare myself for leadership, and do I want to offer myself as a leader within
the Union to promote the interest of my fellow workers,” she said.

Clement added, “… We want them to take the information into the workplace because there are other women and other young people who also need to recognise that they need to do more than just pay union dues and who need to recognise that they have something to offer, not only to the Union, but to the community.”

As such, she said their leadership programme is targeting women both young women and the older, more mature women who are in the Union, to help them prepare themselves for leadership positions. Assistant General Secretary said they are looking at the structures of the Union to determine whether they are preventing women from participating in the way that they would like.

She added, “For example our meetings are usually at five o’clock on evenings, when you’ve worked a whole day and you have caring and nurturing responsibilities, are you going to stay for another two hours in the union, or are you going to go home and take care of your family? So do we need to talk to the union about when it has meetings and if for example it is not possible at this time not to have a meeting at five, could there be child care facilities?”

Clement’s comments came as she said that three years ago the Committee looked at the number of women attending the annual delegates’ conference and it was shown to be in the region of 42 per cent, but when it was time to vote, the women voted unanimously for the men. That resulted, she said, in not even a quarter of the executive council being women.

“We have not seen eight women on the executive of the Barbados Workers’ Union in I don’t know how long, and women think that’s natural – men lead and we support them. So it is all those things we need to examine,” she added.

Meanwhile, Clement, as she made mention of their theme for the IWD’s celebration which is ‘Press for Progress’, she said they are pressing for progress for the women and young people in the union. (JRT)

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