A just transition must recognise and promote the role of women

Davena Rankin
Davena Rankin

STUC Women’s conference highlighted the gender impact of climate change and demanded a just transition to promote the role of women in the emerging green economy, in jobs that deliver fair wages, decent terms and conditions of employment, equitable arrangements for career progression and trade union recognition

STUC Women’s Committee will campaign, alongside allies in civil society for massive public investment in a green recovery that tackles the climate and ecological emergencies, creates climate jobs and is underpinned by a fair deal for workers both here and in supply chains in the Global South.

Their amendment demanded that the Scottish Government firm steps to tackle under-representation of women in apprenticeships and employment in the emerging green economy.

Seconding the motion from Glasgow Trades Union Council, UNISON’s Davena Rankin, speaking on behalf of the STUC Women’s Committee wholeheartedly supported the need to move away from carbon heavy, polluting industries, and invest in a new greener economy.

However she told delegates that it is vital that a just transition is a fair transition that recognises the systemic barriers to involvement of women and Black workers and that while the global north has created most of the pollution it is the global south that is being impacted most.

She warned that there is a real risk that women are excluded from this transition.

“Women continue to face structural and cultural barriers to participation. While women are better represented in the renewable energy sector compared to fossil fuels, occupying over a third of jobs, the gender pay gap remains large and stubbornly persistent,” said Davena.

She pointed out that moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy will require the reskilling and upskilling of large workforces.

“If this shift focuses exclusively on the current, predominantly male fossil fuel workforce, it will reinforce existing gender gaps in terms of workforce demographics, gender pay gaps, and discriminatory practices,” she warned.

“The shift to green jobs offers a real opportunity to create and drive gender equality and women’s economic empowerment as we shift towards an economy that is fairer and more inclusive.

“But this will take real commitment from companies and governments and I suspect given the slow narrowing of the gender pay gap we will need legislation with real teeth to achieve change and financial penalties to drive change,” said Davena.

She called for a gender just transition to look beyond traditional “green jobs” to consider low-carbon jobs.

“This includes healthcare workers, educators, and caregivers – all roles that are mostly carried out by women and are often underpaid and with precarious contracts and working hours.

“We know that investment in these sectors drive local economic development and lift families out of poverty, supporting children to grow and develop.

“So while talking about the green economy let’s remember the potential that these sectors also have and campaign for better funding for them as well.

“In the words of Mary Robinson, UN climate envoy and current UN rights commissioner, ‘Climate change is a man-made problem with a feminist solution’”

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