Women Students’ Caucus – Discussion Topics

We will run a conference via Skype for each of the five campaign caucuses. There will be a debate on campaign priorities, run like a formal conference debate and chaired by the Steering Committee. This will take place on 27 May.

Following the policy ballot which closed on Friday 15 May at 12 noon, we can now reveal the topics you chose to be discussed at NUS Liberation Conference. The topics you selected are:

  • Consent training
  • Domestic abuse 
  • Free sanitary products.

Click here for a full description of each of the topics to be debated or find summaries below.

Below are summaries of the topics that were proposed by students and students’ unions for discussion at the caucus.

Apprentice Pay Gap

The 2018/19 Apprenticeship Pay Survey has shown a growing gender pay gap in apprenticeships. Men undertaking apprenticeships are now paid nearly six percent more than their female counterparts - almost double the gap since the survey was last carried out in 2016. Women are embedded into the gender pay gap right at the beginning of their careers, and for Apprenticeships that have stereotypical gender roles attached to them this is tenfold

All apprentices should be paid the Real Living Wage. Apprentices need access to decent levels of pay and financial support. They need opportunities to access quality apprenticeships and progress, no matter what their background. We must end the discrimination which limits the choices young women can make and invest more in the vital social infrastructure like childcare and social care.

Consent training

CONTENT NOTE: contains references to sexual harrassment and assualt

This proposal builds on work already undertaken by the Women Students’ Campaign on sexual violence. In 2019, Universities told the BBC they recorded 1,436 allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence against students in 2018-19 - up from 476 in 2016-17. Sexual harassment should not be at its peak or the norm at freshers/induction nor at any other time. Being a student should be a time to make memories, not a time to be feared. Educational institutes need to EDUCATE on consent and sexual violence.

Solutions propsed include mandatory consent training for students and staff, clearer reporting and support systems. It calls for better publication and display of information and reporting routes.

Domestic abuse

CONTENT NOTE: contains references to domestic abuse

Supporting student survivors of domestic abuse is vital. The criminalisation of survivors, who are overwhelmingly but not exclusively female or transfeminine, is extremely dangerous and perpetuates a culture of punishment for victims of domestic abuse. The current Coronavirus situation has seen an increase in domestic abuse referrals with many feeling unsafe in their homes

We should promote and lobby for the new Domestic Abuse Bill to be passed as well as campaigning for vital additions to family courts. Student Unions can effectively campaign for student survivors to have safe accommodation and an end to punitive sanctions.  We should continue to push against the criminalisation of survivors and campaign for safer measures.

Free sanitary products

Over half of all the students at UK universities menstruate every month. To put this further into context, there are over 1.3 million students that menstruate who are spending more than £128 a year on sanitary products. Around the world period poverty is an obstacle for far too many people and affects people from marginalised communities more so. The impact of increased costs at university can add pressure and stress to a students experience and that could have an effect on attainment and retention.
This submission proposes the provision of free sanitary products for all students that menstruate at all HE and FE institutions in the UK.

Solidarity with Trans Women

Trans women are under attack in the UK, and NUS needs to stand in solidarity with them. Trans women should not solely be the concern of trans/LGBT+ groups, as trans women’s concerns are women’s concerns and our oppression is shaped by misogyny. This is framed by a highly transmisogynistic press environment, pressure groups trying to reverse gains made by trans women over the past decade and fear mongering over reforms to legal gender recognition. NUS should take action on this is a wide vareity of areas, especially by mobilising student feminist groups.