Congress Women's Conference 2014

Women organising for decent work took place in Wexford - 6/7 March 2014.  Details here

A Woman's Place is in her Union

BannerMembers of Congress Women's Committee at last meeting of 2012

Congress Women's Seminar International Women's Day 2013

Standing ovation for Magdalenes Fri Conf 2013Standing ovation for Magdalene WomenPics and reports from our seminar 8 March 2013 here 

Congress Women's Conference 2012 - 1st and 2nd March in Belfast, Waterfront Hall



_MG_0098 President Michael D Higgins at ICTU Womens Conference 2012President Michael D Higgins at the Congress Women's Conference, Belfast Waterfront Hall, 2nd March 2012 (Pic Paula Geraghty)Congress was delighted and honoured to host President Michael D Higgins as a guest speaker at our Congress Women's Committee Conference, which took place in Belfast today (2nd March). Full address here.

This was President Higgins' first visit to Belfast since his election.

Congress General Secretary David Begg warmly welcomed the decision and said it was an honour to have President Higgins at the conference. RTE News coverage of the President's visit - here

The biennial conference of the Congress Women's Committee brings together over 200 delegates from more than 40 trade unions across the island of Ireland.

_MG_0004 President Michael D Higgins with ICTU delagtion at ICTU Womens Conference 2012President Michael D Higgins with Delegates at Congress Womens Conference (Pic Paula Geraghty)Women now constitute the majority of trade union members in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Report and agenda for the Conference is available here.

Guest speakers included:

Sylvia Walby - gave a gendered analysis of the crisis. More here

Michelle O Sullivan presented research on actual payments to people covered by JLCs and REAs. More here

Andy Snoddy spoke about organising women during the crisis. More here

tweet 3Follow the conference on Twitter at: #ictuwomen2012. Read reflections of PSEU delegate Melissa Brennan on the conference here (PSEU Union Magazine, Public Service Review)

The Women's Committee at Congress BDC 2011

Margaret BrowneMargaret Browne, Secretary of the Congress Women's Committee addressing delegates at BDC 2011Margaret Browne addressed the delgates at the BDC in Killarney, July 2011. Full speech available here

Congress National Women's Seminar - Cork 4/5th March 2011

Delegates  and Banner at ICTU Joint Women's Committee SeminarDelegates and Banner at ICTU Joint Women's Committee Seminar (Pic Paula Geraghty)The Congress National Women's Seminar took place in Cork 4/5th March 2011 on the eve of the the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. More than 150 women will gather this weekend to discuss the Impact of the Recession on Women's Rights and how trade unions are rersponding. See programme here

More here and more on 100th anniversary of international women's day here.

The seminar took place during Fairtrade Fortnight (28 Feb to 13 March), the theme of which is: 'Show off your label'.

Video - Decisions for Life: Helping young working women

7 March 2011: Decisions for Life campaign empowers and connects young working women around the world. Watch it here

Campaigning tool available also

Congress is a strong supporter of Turn Off the Red Light : End Prostitution in Ireland Campaign.

turnofftheredlight-headerAs awareness of the harm caused by sex trafficking and exploitation in the sex industry grows, men in favour of reform of Ireland's outdated prostitution laws today (Feb 2 2011) spoke in support of the "Turn Off the Red Light: End Prostitution in Ireland" campaign. Chaired by Theo Dorgan, among those to speak were 2 trade union leaders, David Begg (ICTU), and Eamon Devoy (TEEU) who called for action to prevent the sexual exploitation of women and children in Ireland through dissuasive measures against those who buy sex. Mr Begg said: 'Having legislation in place that says we, as a society, do not believe it is acceptable for someone to buy another's body for sexual gratification, exploiting the poverty, past history of abuse or limited life choices of the person being bought, would send a very clear message that we are a society committed to equality.' Mr Devoy added that prostitution could not be considered "work" and that we should be concerned to ensure that support services are in place to assist people involved in prostitution to exit.

More information on the event here. Read the testimonies of some of the fwomen in prostitution interviewed by the research team on the report Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: the Experiences of Migrant Women in Ireland, 2009.

Congress also recently participated at the Dignity (an interagency initiative working to deliver quality services for victims of sex-trafficking in Ireland) seminar to mark the conclusion of the project. The evaluation report of the Dignity Project - which covers the project's approach and recommendations - will be available on the project's website by the end of February (2011).

"From membership to leadership: advancing women in trade unions"

Membership to LeadershipETUC 8th March SurveyThe 2010 ETUC project "From membership to leadership: advancing women in trade unions" has made a strong case for a renewed and strategic approach to achieving gender balance in decision-making and leadership structures, as a basis for union democracy and for realising gender equality at societal, economic and political levels. A resource guide has also been published to spread good practices cases collected via this project and to support affiliates' efforts to achieve gender balance. Congress presentation on the issue available here.

Congress Women's Committee Networking Roundtable event 25th May, 2010

Liberty Hall eventSusan McKay (National Womens Committee); Sally Anne Kinahan (ICTU Assistant general Secretary); Patricia King (ICTU Vice President) and Clare Tracy (Joint Chair Congress Womens Committee) at the Congress Womens Committee Networking event in Liberty Hall (25 May 2010)About 30 people, including 10 members of the Executive Council of Congress, attended the above event at Liberty Hall. The purpose of the event was for members of the Executive Council, key representatives of other Congress Committees to meet with members of the Womens' Committee to explore common issues of concern and to assess how we can work better together into the future. Chaired by Sally Anne Kinahan, speakers included:
Susan McKay, Director of the National Women's Council;
Patricia King, Congress Vice President.
Clare Treacy and Taryn Trainor (Joint Chairs of the Committee) also gave short overviews of the activities of the Committees. This was followed by a discussion on the best way forward.

Congress Womens Conference 2010 - "Building Equality into Recovery"

JOCCongress President, Jack O'Connor addresses the conferenceNearly 200 trade union delegates and guests gathered in Belfast on 5th and 6th of March at the Biennial Congress Womens Conference.

Programme for the event and Motions debated here ;

Report of the Executive Council and the Womens' Committee to the Conference

Opening address by Congress President, Jack O'Connor

MonicaMonica O'Connor, author of Sex Trafficking report for ICI, addresses conferencePresentation by Congress Assistant General Secretary, Sally Anne Kinahan

Speech by Peter Bunting, Congress Assistant General Secretary

Presentation by Eileen Lavery, Equality Commission, N.Ireland

Monica O'Connor's presentation on trafficking for sexual exploitation

The conference was held on the eve of International Womens Day 8 March 2010

Membership to LeadershipETUC 8th March SurveyThe day was marked by a number of events around the country and the world.

The National Womens Council held a discussion based on the book - The Equality Illusion, by Kat Banyard. The Equality and Rights Alliance have also claimed that discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers is on the rise in the workplace due to the recession.

Women and the Recession - One Year On by the TUC is available to download.

Also, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) published the report Decisions for Work which examines the factors affecting women's decisions about work around the world.

Anne SpeedAnne Speed, SIPTU and ICTU Executive CouncilThe European Trade Union Confederation said that an increasing number of female workers are joining the ranks of trade unions throughout Europe. According to this year's European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) 8th March Survey, women account for around 45% of the trade union membership of ETUC, which is an increase of 3 per cent since 2006.

Meanwhile, the European Commission in a press conference on 5th March 2010, announced a EU Women's Charter setting out a commitment to gender equality. President Barroso said:"I would like to say that the Charter will be this Commission's calling card on gender equality for the next five years.

Annette DolanAnnette Dolan, TUI, addresses conferenceWe are putting gender equality at the heart of our Europe 2020 strategy. A growth potential will not be achieved unless it is inclusive growth. Getting women into work will help us get out of the crisis." This followed the earlier announcement of a strategy on the gender pay-gap which currently stands at 18% across the EU (Ireland comes in at 17.1%). The actions include a new gender pay gap calculator which allows workers and employers to calculate the pay gap in their country and sector.

HellaHella Alikuru from the IUF addressing conference about the benefits for communities under Fairtrade termsThe Commission already runs a data-base of women in decision-making across the EU (country by country, sector by sector) and it shows that in national parliaments, less than one in four members is a woman. In business, the situation is even worse with, on average, one woman out of ten members of boards in the European largest publicly quoted companies. In the science and technology spheres, few women hold top positions. Read about the Eurobarometer survey on gender equality

Congress Womens Committee Meeting with President McAleese "a celebration of 50 years of Struggle and Achievement"

Aras Patricia Clare and TarynCongress Past President, Patricia McKeown; President McAleese; Clare Tracy and Taryn Traynor, Joint Chairs of Congress Womens' Committee (pic: Tommy Clancy)Congress Womens Committee today (November 4) met with President McAleese on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. The meeting took place at Aras an Uachtaran, at the invite of President McAleese. Current and former members of the Congress Joint Women's Committee were in attendance. Speaking in advance, Patricia McKeown, a former president of Congress said: "We are delighted that President McAleese has invited us to celebrate with her 50 years of struggle and achievement, on the part of the members of the Women's Committee, past and present." Full press release

Aras groupMembers of the Womens Committee of Congress with President Mary McAleese (Pic: Tommy Clancy)

Congress Womens Seminar 2009 - Women and the Recession

Clare Marian and EvelynCongress President, Patricia McKeown; Clare Tracy, Joint Chair Congress Womens Committee; Marian Harkin, MEP; Evylyn Collins, CEO the Equality Commission, N.Irl; and Sally Anne Kinahan, Congress Assistant General Secretary at Congress Womens Seminar, Belfast March 09.About 180 women trade unionists from across the whole island gathered in Belfast in March 2009. Organised by the Congress Womens Committee, the seminar was considered the likely effects of the recession on women and how trade Unionist could ensure a gender perspective in our response to the challenging economic scenario.

Among the contributors were:

Marian HarkinMarian Harkin, Independent MEP, addrersses the Congress Womens Seminar in Belfast, March 2009Patricia McKeown, Congress President; Carol Baxter, Head of Development at the Equality Authority; Evylyn Collins, CEO of the Equality Commission N.Irl; Marian Harkin, MEP, Nancy Coro Aguiar (Cuba), and Tara Scott from the Ethical Pest Campaign.

See full report of our March 2009 seminar - Women and the Recession.

See also a very useful TUC Report on Women and the Recession.

Womens Conference 2008

Click here for a copy of the motions passed at the Womens Conference 2008, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

ETUC disappointed about failure European parliament to improve maternity protection

On Wednesday 6 May 2009, the European Parliament (EP) was expected to vote on proposals of the European Commission to improve the protection of pregnant workers and young mothers in Europe. Due to strong opposition by the conservative and liberal groups in the EP, the report was not put to the vote, and the issue was referred back to the responsible committee in the EP. The European Trade Union Confederation is very disappointed with this outcome.

ITUC Maternity Video

And see ITUC video on maternity protection

Evolution of March 8th as International Womens Day

Read this SIPTU publication about the history of International Womens Day.

Nancy CubayInternational Speaker : Nancy Coro Aguiar (Cuba)Taryn and PaulineTaryn Trainer, Joint Chair Congress Womens Committee and Pauline Buchanan, Equality Officer NICICTU, present a gift to Marian Harkin

Gender Inequalities in Time Use

The Equality Authority and the ESRI have published a ground breaking report on 'Gender Inequalities in Time Use - The Distribution of Caring, Housework and Employment among Women and Men in Ireland'. (2008). This report analyses time diaries from just over 1000 men and women, aged 18 to 97, from the Irish National Time Use Survey 2005 to gather information on paid and unpaid work. This analysis looks in detail at the breakdown of tasks between women and men. It is the first systematic study of gender differences in unpaid work among all adults in Ireland. It also looks at the distribution of time between women and men in couples.

Congress Guidelines

Tara ScottClare Tracy presents Tara Scott (Ethical Pest) with a gift from the Womens CommitteeCongress guide to breastfeeding right at work

Congress guide to domestic violence and the workplace

Report of Gender Equality Programme 1999 2004

Useful Resources:

Code of Practice for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Harassment in VEC Workplaces


Advisory Committee on equal opportunities for women and men

The Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men assists the European Commission in formulating and implementing the European Union activities aimed at promoting equality between women and men - more here


Global Trends in Women's Access to 'Decent Work

Dialogue on Globalization Occasional Paper No 43, by Maria S. Floro and Mieke Meurs.

LIFT_LogoLIFT logo

Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: the Experiences of Migrant Women in Ireland

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has published a major report on the above topic. This report presents stark evidence of the trafficking of women into and through Ireland for the purposes of sexual exploitation. It shines a light on the reality that large numbers of migrant women are being sexually exploited in indoor prostitution in Ireland. Drawing on the experiences of these women, the report illustrates the severe emotional, physical and psychological harm that women who are trafficked and sexually exploited in Ireland endure. This report was written by Carmel and Patricia Kelleher, of kelleher associates, Monica O'Connor and Dr Jane Pillinger.

The National Womens Council

Founded in 1973, the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI), Comhairle Náisiúnta na mBan in Eirinn, is the national representative organisation for women and women's groups in Ireland promoting equality, human rights and empowerment for all women.