Changing legislation can start with changing our culture and environment

By RCM Board member Cher Dougan on 08 December 2023 RCM UK Research Safety Women Staffing Levels

For the STUC Women’s Conference RCM Board member Cher Dougan shares how important it is to advocate for change but how that can come in different ways including but not limited to putting motions forward to change legislation.

I had the great pleasure of attending the STUC Women’s Conference at Glasgow Central Hotel. I had the task of presenting motion 3, Apprenticeships for midwifery in Scotland. There were delegates who came from different professional unions, teachers, fire fighters, nurses, midwives, musicians and train drivers to name but a few.

I soon realised that I had to present in a specific manner and learned quickly how to address the crowd of smiling faces looking at me. I presented my motion, which was all about the need for apprenticeships in midwifery to support the workforce to grow.  Although I felt slightly nervous at the beginning, I soon got into my stride and started to share my passion for the motion with the conference or sisters as they liked to be called.

There wasn’t anyone who objected to the motion and in fact I had a few sisters standing up and speaking in support of my motion so it was voted on and carried into the business for the STUC in 2023/2024.

The Theme that the STUC have this year is called Herstory celebrating the stories of the women in the past, present and future. Some of the women have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that women’s rights and voices are up held and as I sat and reflected I was proud to be part of the present movement, carrying on some of the work these women began.

I was also saddened at the same time because there are still many issues that are not fully resolved for example the Gender Pay Gap, although the Gap has got smaller, women are still getting paid less than men in similar positions and so the fight must go on.

It made me realise that any change big or small take many years to happen and this is because we don’t need to just change legislation, we need to change our own understanding and moral perspectives on things to enable them to become a reality.

We can be sometimes be too quick to make a decision on a situation before taking a moment and finding out exactly who it affects? What is the affect? Why does it affect them?

This made me think of me personally and questioned if I always had this consideration when dealing with people or situation in my work and personal life. A lot of the motions being put forward where very different in what they were called and who they were presented by and yet they all appeared to have an effect on every women there. My biggest learning would have to be that instead of thinking about how things effect my situation I will try to take a bigger view of not just who is involved at the time but also the affects it may have in the future.

I also now have a better understanding that change does take time and I need to try and be a bit more patient.