Vibrant and positive debate at The Patriarchy and the Pandemic

With face to face events on hold during Covid-19, the South East Regional Women’s Forum went virtual this year

Our annual event for women members in the South East region was scheduled to take place at The View Hotel in Eastbourne, over the weekend 2 – 4 October. However, Covid-19 meant that for the first time, the Regional Women’s Forum was held online.

Although this presented obstacles and difficulties, we were so happy to see so many of our brilliant women members and activists signing up for our four webinars and panel event around the theme of ‘The Patriarchy and the Pandemic.’

We kicked off with an examination of the impact of the virus on women’s health & safety, with some sobering discussions about the increase in domestic abuse. We then moved on to a new subject for many of us – “Sleep – a feminist issue” and this attracted the highest number of participants of any event, and hopefully led to a good nights sleep for everyone who attended.

Our Grand Panel event covered the impact of Covid-19 on women and low-paid workers and we were joined by UNISON’s national women’s officer Josie Irwin, the chair of Labour women’s parliamentary party, Rosie Duffield MP, and our own UNISON SE regional women’s committee chair, Sandra Charles.

An engaging Q&A session was held which will have equipped all of us to think about how we can work together to lessen the negative impacts of the virus and restrictions for women in our workplaces and communities.

On Saturday we kicked off with a lively workshop where we examined the particular issues facing Black women and how we can support them and encourage activism in UNISON. This sparked a vibrant and positive debate and we look forward to seeing how we take this issue further throughout Black History Month.

The region are running two webinars in Black History Month, Black members tackling racism on 13 October and Eradicating racism in the workplace on 28 October. To register for one or both of these events, with your membership number and the name of the webinar you wish to attend.

Our final event was a webinar where we discussed the way in which maternity rights had been impacted this year, and we made this very interactive by having a series of case studies for the participants to consider and deliberate on. Sandra Charles, chair of SE regional women’s committee closed the Forum by thanking everyone for attending, in particular those women members we had not met before, and hoping that we will all be able to meet face to face at Regional Women’s Forum 2021.

If you are interested in becoming a Branch Women’s Officer or need help organising an equalities event or training in your branch, please email