WOMEN’S CAUCUS – Staying the Course: Pathway to Leadership

Valerie King, Co-Chair, Women’s Caucus

The National Women’s Caucus Committee members are working on initiatives that center around the training and development of women throughout the UWUA.

Our committee members’ strength and fortitude is now pouring into our workplaces as we mentor other women and guide the next generation to navigate the world around them and lead the way to make it better. We are doing this by taking the necessary steps to be supportive of each other and our fellow union sisters, by sharing  our journeys, creating initiatives that recognize the impact of women in breaking barriers. We are challenging and defying the odds that are stacked against us.

The benefits of female leadership

“It’s not about men against women but there is evidence to show through research that when you have women in the decision making process, you get policies that benefit women, children and families in general,” states Winnie Byanyima executive director of Oxfam International. Everyone benefits when more women are in power.

We know that for female leadership to thrive, it’s important to address the disparities in education, participation, training and development. As such, the National Women’s Caucus recently attended the United Association of Labor Education (UALE) summer school for women. The theme “Women Workers: Essential, Resilient, and Powerful” resonated with committee members.

This was an opportunity for committee members to network with other women leaders across a wide spectrum of unions, worker organizations, educators, and our supporters. The objective was to build power in the labor movement through solidarity, political advocacy, and advocacy for racial equity. Developing effective communication, and acquiring advanced leadership skills were the goals.

Through networking, we collaborated with the UMASS Labor Extension Program educators and created  a three-day train the trainer “Welcome to the Union” workshop. Fourteen Women Caucus members attended the training and are now equipped with the knowledge and expertise to facilitate this workshop within their respective locals.

Building union power

Earlier in the year, the Women’s Institute of Leadership Development (WILD) held a training entitled, “You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup,” which focused on understanding the importance of self-care. Our work is not a 9-5 job. We must take care of ourselves in order to be effective advocates.

As we approach a season of change, we are mapping out goals for the future of UWUA women, empowering them to control their own paths to achieving success. We are cognizant of our GPS (Growth, Performance and Sustainability) to bridge the leadership gap between men and women and build gender equity by supporting the efforts of women and their contributions to the labor movement.

Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “Women are the real architects of society.” Let’s build back unions by seeing the world through the lives of women and lift them up as they lead the way!