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ICTU Women’s Conference 2024

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) held its biennial women’s conference earlier this month to cover a wide range of issues that affect women. The PDA has been affiliated with the ICTU since 2020. PDA National Officer for Northern Ireland, Una O’Farrell attended the conference to see how workplace inequalities are addressed across trade unions.

Fri 29th March 2024 The PDA

The conference was held at the Hodson Bay Hotel, in Athlone, Ireland from 7 – 8 March. It was opened by the joint chairs of the Women’s Committee, Maxine Murphy-Higgins and Margaret Coughlan, followed by an address by the mayor of Athlone, Louise Heavin who is the only female in a cabinet of 20 people. Delegates were also addressed by ICTU President, Justin McCamphill and guest speaker the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid who thanked delegates for their collective support.

Over the two days, 22 separate motions were brought to the conference covering many aspects of employment. The motions were diverse and wide-ranging, some asking for support in calling for employers to facilitate breastfeeding on site, pre-menstrual and menopause policies, equitable access to ADHD testing in young women, amended maternity leave to include surrogacy, and special leave in the event of miscarriage or abortion before 24 weeks pregnant.

Day one of the conference included three lunchtime fringe sessions; Trade Union Friends of Palestine, Care Matters: How working carers can be supported and models of sustainable care, and Tackling the far right in our workplaces and on our streets – a trade union response. The Nevin Economic Research Institute presented its findings on the obstacles to retaining women in a healthy labour market. The session shared data on the mental load of caring responsibilities and the time involved in caring. The session also covered the imbalanced career trajectories between men and women following parental leave, and how this could be corrected.

Day two of the conference opened with a keynote address from ICTU General Secretary, Owen Reidy. Owen acknowledged the contribution of women both to the workplace and in caring responsibilities. He also offered that this is a time for support for women trade unionists internationally who are struggling to achieve peace and basic human rights.

Una O’Farrell said, “The fact that this conference is taking place represents the commitment across trade unions to address workplace inequities that women face. Each and every motion brought to Congress offers a means to remedy this. The conference was inspiring and I have now joined the ICTU’s Women’s Committee, I look forward to playing a part in that. It was both harrowing and a privilege to share in the stories that some women told of their experiences at work, from harassment to assault to discrimination, and further highlights the importance of trade union membership.”

Women in pharmacy

Pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists and qualified pharmacists are encouraged to join the PDA NAWP Network which is an organisation within the pharmacy profession in the UK that concerns itself with issues of special relevance to female pharmacists. The network provides a structure through which members can work together to proactively address and campaign around gender discrimination and its causes and consequences. Membership is open to all women pharmacists, students, and allies. Membership is FREE to PDA student and PDA trainee members.

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