May Day 2021: A woman’s place is in her union, now more than ever

PSAC moves forward with recommendations from the Gender Equity Task Force

May Day is rooted in the international struggle for the eight-hour workday and for workers to be treated fairly with dignity and respect. Globally, unions are still fighting for basic rights in the workplace. On this second May Day marked during the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight for workers to have safe working conditions, decent benefits, and important rights like access to paid sick leave is more important than ever. This work includes making real change to close the gender and equity divide.

“The pandemic has shown us that women, and especially women from equity-seeking groups, are at the forefront of this fight – as health care workers, long-term care providers, service workers, and as the primary caregivers for children and elderly parents,” says PSAC National Executive Vice President, Sharon DeSousa. “Never has it been more important for women to be represented by unions, and to be in leadership roles in those unions. The recommendations contained in the PSAC Gender Equity Task Force Report (Task Force) will support women’s increased participation in the union – and our leadership is committed to implementing each and every recommendation.”


The Task Force was struck in 2018, based on a recommendation from the PSAC National Human Rights Committee. Women make up the largest demographic of PSAC members and yet, are underrepresented in leadership positions. It was charged with examining barriers to women’s participation within the union on all leadership bodies and to develop proposals to increase women’s participation throughout PSAC, and in all areas of union activity. The Task Force engaged women members from across the country through surveys, telephone townhall meetings, focus groups, and in-person workshops to gather input on how gender equity could be improved in all PSAC work.

The report has been adopted by PSAC’s National Board of Directors (NBoD) and identifies several key obstacles to the participation of women in our union. It also makes a series of important recommendations to advance gender equity at PSAC.

“Research conducted by the Task Force clearly demonstrates that tackling the systemic issues identified by women members of the PSAC, would not only shift the way we organize within the union; but also change the face of elected leadership bodies to better reflect the needs and interests of PSAC’s membership.” – GET Report

On this International Worker’s Day of 2021, we wish all PSAC members a Happy May Day, and commit to the work of the Gender Equity Task Force and ensure that every woman has a place in her union.


April 30, 2021