STUC's women's conference opposes motion in support of single sex services for women and girls
Earlier today the STUC’s Women’s Conference rejected a motion from the Paisley and District Trades Council which supported the protection of single sex services for women and girls, as defined by the Equality Act and clarified by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The motion is set out below.
The STUC’s Women’s Committee recommended delegates should oppose the motion, and in an attempt to defend its position, issued a statement where the ‘sisters’ argued that the discussion about who should have access to single sex spaces has “evolved” in recent years.
It emphasised the STUC’s support for Self ID, and reminded delegates that the STUC’s Women’s Committee is committed to addressing “the issue of transgender equality.”
However, the statement did not make a similar explicit commitment to addressing the issue of equality for women and girls - a startling omission.
But the sisters did say they fully support the Equality Act (2010) Single Sex Exemptions “to deliver provisions for women and girls, including trans women”, and that they were committed to the future protection of vital services that “support and protect vulnerable women and girls, including trans woman”. (My emphasis).
So, instead of acknowledging that there is a conflict of rights between protecting women’s single sex services and the provision of services for trans women, the STUC Women’s Committee has come down clearly on the side of the influential trans lobby.
As Fiona Macdonald, the mover of the motion, tweeted,
“Stop shouting TWAW (Transwomen are Women) every time we talk about traumatised women and their involuntary trauma response to male bodied people. Solutions must be found.”
Mary Senior @mary_senior_Difficult debate at #STUCWomen21 - @UCUSPresident Lena Wånggren is opposing motion 16 on behalf of @UCUScotland - supporting women’s rights and supporting trans inclusion #Equality https://t.co/4t50qFBtC3
The STUC represents more than half a million workers in Scotland. More than half are WOMEN.
Women campaigned for decades to secure safe, single sex services for women and girls traumatised by sexual abuse, rape and violence.
It is hard to believe that, nearly one hundred years after the Women’s Committee was set up in 1927, today’s committee has abandoned women at their most vulnerable.
Male violence is a terrible reality for many women. That is why we need single-sex spaces. It is not bigoted to ask that they are protected. Or transphobic. It’s practical feminism. It’s solidarity with our sisters.
Something the STUC Women’s Committee seems to have abandoned.
Single Sex Provision in Women’s Frontline Services
“That this Conference notes that the continued dilution of single sex services (SSS) supporting vulnerable women and girls, has been promoted by most of Scotland's leading women’s organisations. Many workers and users of frontline services are concerned about this trend.
“The Equality Act (EA) 2020 clearly states the position of sex as a protected characteristic and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) clarifies the legal exemptions which permit, where justified, services to women only: ‘offering a women-only support service to victims of domestic violence who are women is likely to be justifiable even if there is no parallel service for men due to insufficient demand.’
“The law aligns with the original feminist aims for women’s services in Scotland.
• Supports the application of the exclusion of men to services specifically tailored to women and notes the legal provision allowing this provided by the EHRC/EA.
• Condemns the misstep of leading women's organisations within Scotland to protect this important provision in the EA, therefore failing to protect vulnerable service users and children.
• Calls on the STUC Women’s Committee to work with the General Council and its affiliates and employers to amend policies and practices relating to women’s services to align with the EA provision and lawfully provide SSS run for and by women
• Reaffirms the feminist principles on which the women’s service sector was formed.
• Vows to fight cuts to service provision, to defend women only services and to campaign for an extension, based on needs.
• Notes that the Scottish Government’s funding policies have driven change to the delivery of SSS and calls on them to analyse/publish the impact that current funding guidance has had on the delivery of single sex provision. Future funding guidance should include advice about the legal exemptions to encourage development and take up for single sex provision.”
Mover: Paisley & District Trades Union Council