Women Teachers' Consultation Conference

Women Teachers' Consultation Conference feedback

Highlights from our 2021 Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference

The 2021 Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference took place on Saturday 2 October 2021.

The theme for this year’s Conference was ‘Women taking the lead globally - ending inequality and defending our rights’.

Women teachers joined from across the UK to hear from a number of keynote speakers and to share their experience of the workplace and beyond.

Members attended webinars on:

  • Africa’s Gift, a charity which empowers Africa’s women and girls;

  • Inclusion and fairness: flexible working in the workplace and the Union; and

  • Women’s wellbeing and assertiveness.

In an enlightening lunchtime panel session, attendees heard from Preet Kaur Gill MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Catelene Passchier, Workers’ Vice Chair, International Labour Organization, and Dianne Woloschuk, Chair of the Status of Women Committee, Education International.

It is the age-old case of stop blaming the victims and look at what makes the perpetrators feel they can get away with what they do. -- Conference attendee

All spoke of the continuing disadvantages and challenges facing women and girls throughout the world and the work they are doing to tackle and overcome them.

Specific reference was made to:

  • the plight of women and girls in Afghanistan;

  • the problems girls have had accessing education during and since the pandemic; and

  • violence against women and girls - in the home, on the street and in the workplace.

The Conference heard from Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, on the subjects of World Teachers’ Day, the crisis of the multiple ‘viruses’ of Covid, racism, and violence against women and girls.

I now have a deeper understanding of the growing issues which affect girls, women and women teachers around the world on a daily basis. -- Conference attendee

Dr Roach also spoke of the lack of awareness of so many school management teams on the issue of the menopause and draconian absent management processes or capability proceedings being used against older women when understanding and personal adjustments would keep valued teachers in post.

The General Secretary launched a call to action on ending violence against women and girls, asking members to email their MP to urge them to pressure the Government to ratify the ILO Convention 190 on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

In a real-time polling session, members were asked about how well equipped their schools/colleges were to take on the challenges of education recovery that include tackling gender inequalities, flexible working opportunities, sexual harassment and safety in the workplace and beyond:

  • almost half (49%) said their place of work was not equipped to lead education recovery, including gender inequalities;

  • 59% said that flexible working arrangements were either ad hoc or that there was a negative attitude to flexible working in the workplace and requests were rarely granted;

  • one in ten said that they feel ‘not safe’ at work or ‘concerned and anxious’ about their safety at work;

  • half (49%) said they are not aware of any policies or processes in their workplaces to address the problem of increasing sexual harassment and violence in schools;

  • one fifth (20%) said they feel ‘not safe’ or ‘concerned or anxious’ about their safety outside of work;

  • 59% said that the NASUWT should prioritise lobbying politicians to take urgent action on global strategies for tackling violence against women and girls.

I have gained a greater awareness of some of the strategies necessary to tackling inequalities against women in the workplace. -- Conference attendee

Next steps

The issues raised at this Conference will be taken forward as part of the Union’s work and campaigning on women’s equality.

Other feedback from the Conference:

  • Living with a disability outside of work makes one feel very unsafe.

  • [I have gained a] world view on how the Covid pandemic has negatively affected women globally. Most illuminating (and quite depressing really!)

  • There is a feeling of empowerment and solidarity [at the Conference], particularly when the classroom can feel quite isolating.

  • Informative, useful and helpful to gain further knowledge - particularly interested in international issues/concerns alongside local/national.

  • [I now have] more confidence in asserting myself.

  • I couldn't possibly choose (the best session)! I genuinely gained something and more from every single session. Thank you.

  • I always gain a wealth of inspiration and courage to further challenge the inequalities in my workplace.

  • We can all help each other to stand tall and feel empowered.

  • It is good for women to have a safe space to discuss their own issues.

  • Empowered!

  • Inspiring speakers and practical strategies to assert oneself in the workplace.

Some highlights from our previous Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference