A woman’s place is in her union: UNISON Scotland’s path to strong female leaders 

UNISON Scotland has launched it’s Women’s Development Programme on International Women’s Day 2024, as part of the union’s drive to increase women in leadership roles in Scotland.

The programme, which kicks off this month, will help to assert that a woman’s place is in her union.

UNISON encourages equality through the active participation of women within the union. From fair elections, reserved seats for women, targeted training and campaigning for flexible working.

Almost four in five UNISON members are women and UNISON actively advocates for the rights of women within the union and the workplace.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme – ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ – aligns with UNISON Scotland’s Women’s Development Programme, emphasising the importance of valuing the inclusion of all women – in all our diversity in public life.

UNISON branches have nominated participants onto this program which is tailored to help women become more involved in the senior structures of the union. The course will develop leadership skills and explore  how women can influence change across UNISON and the wider trade union movement, and celebrate the progress we have made.

The six-day program, encompassing sessions such as Women and Leadership, Smashing the Leadership Ceiling, Branch Influence in the Union, Networking, Navigating and Influencing, Networking and Supporting, and reflecting on Successes and the journey so far, promises to be a transformative experience for all involved.

Branches have played a pivotal role in identifying participants and supporters, ensuring a robust support system for the learners’ leadership journey.

Audrey Malloy, UNISON Scotland regional education organiser said:

“This is the first year we’ve held this programme in Scotland and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. UNISON’s commitment to developing strong women leaders is at the heart of our Women’s Development Programme. Through education and empowerment, we are shaping a future where women not only participate but lead our union, influencing positive change at every level within UNISON structures and beyond.”

Denise McKenzie, UNISON Scotland area organiser and development programme mentor said: “Guiding a new activist to apply their learning and grow into a leadership position within their branch is not just a responsibility; it’s a privilege. The Women’s Development Programme is about creating a supportive network for women to thrive within our union, ensuring they not only succeed but lead with confidence.”

Susan Burns, UNISON Scotland lead for equalities said: “The Women’s Development Programme stands as a testament to UNISON’s dedication to fair representation, ensuring that every woman’s voice is not only heard but respected. We are fostering an environment where diversity is celebrated, and equality is more than a goal – it’s our responsibility.”

Get involved with your union:

If you aspire to become more active, contribute to the growth of UNISON, and play a vital role in shaping the future of our union, get in touch with the branch today.

Together we can inspire inclusion within UNISON, ensuring that a woman’s place in our union remains strong, influential, and celebrated.

Your journey begins with a simple step – reach out and make your mark within our union. Together, we can create a future where the leadership landscape is diverse, inclusive, and driven by the strength of empowered women.


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