Press Release

Female Workers Underscore Menstruation, Maternity and Menopause as Important Workplace Issues

Published On: Mar 14, 2024

Women across Antigua and Barbuda amplified their voices on a range of issues that specifically impact women, during the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) International Women’s Day Seminar 2024.

Among the issues raised was the need for flexibility in work schedules for women returning to work after childbirth, as well as education and understanding for working women who may be experiencing menopausal symptoms. The group also discussed the impact of menstrual cycles on their ability to concentrate at work and proposed certain accommodations to make coping easier. The issues raised follow closely on UNI Global Union’s focus on “the three ‘M’s”: menstruation, maternity, and menopause, as a gendered approach to Occupational Safety and Health.

In a publication launching UNI’s three ‘M’s campaign on International Women’s Day, Head of Equal Opportunities, Veronica Fernandez Mendez said “Although natural biological experiences, the three ‘M’s are still taboo subjects in many cultures and workplaces, yet they have a significant impact on the professional development of workers who experience them.”

In reflecting on the Seminar, Education and Training Officer at the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union, Hazel Luke, said the session was extremely valuable as it provided a safe space for women to freely ventilate on the three ‘M’s among other issues. Luke added that the worksheets generated from the sessions would be used to inform actions that would address the concerns raised by women.

Another highlight of the Seminar was a presentation on “Economic Empowerment and Inclusivity” delivered by principal consultant at Accounting Solutions, Cassandra P. Simon. The presentation encouraged a critical examination of the “UN Women’s 11 Hurdles for Women’s Equality by 2030”. Participants also benefited from a presentation by Psychologist, Fiona Charles-Richards on “Accessibility to Advanced Healthcare as a Means of Accelerating Progress”. Charles-Richards told women to avoid negative self-talk and engage in practices that would build self-worth.

Participants provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on the seminar: “It was timely and informative and that’s what the women of Antigua and Barbuda need,” one woman shared. “It was encouraging to be empowered among such a diverse group of persons with different experiences. Hopefully, we can make proactive change, once we stay unified, connected and in the Union’s power,” another woman added.

More than 90 women attended the Seminar and already plans are in motion for a major Women’s Conference to be hosted by the Union later this year.

According to ABWU First Vice President, Monique James-Roberts, the Union has had a long and proud history of empowering women and encouraging gender parity. This includes its advocacy for paid maternity leave which is now enshrined in the nation's constitution. In earlier years, the Union adopted a progressive outlook by offering typing classes, along with Math and English courses to women who later went on to find gainful employment in secretarial roles. Today, the Union continues to facilitate scholarships in Industrial Relations, Human Resource Management, Occupational Safety Health and Hygiene, and other disciplines for members irrespective of gender.

By empowering members through training and education, the Union hopes to inspire more women to pursue positions of leadership so that they can have a more powerful voice in shaping institutions, the community and nation.


CALL 462-2005 to learn how to become a member.