A new chapter in the story of the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP) began on January 1 when it became a semi-autonomous network of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA).
As the PDA heads beyond 30,000 members, including 18,000 women, it is the perfect partnership to provide a platform for the important issues NAWP was originally created to address.
It is also timely as the PDA had concluded the next stage of its membership development needed more focus on networks to enhance the opportunities of its diverse membership.
Although a part of the PDA, pharmacists can join NAWP independent of whether they are PDA members. After 114 years, NAWP was last year faced with closure as its executive decided they could no longer sustain the organisation. Given over 60 per cent of registered pharmacists are women, it was a shame that NAWP was about to be consigned to history.
The role of women in the workplace, the Equal Pay Act, more support for families and great changes in societal expectations have transformed the world in which NAWP began.
There have been huge strides in gender equality but despite this, the feedback from PDA members in its surveys suggest life is still hard for many women juggling careers and family responsibilities.
We know many pharmacy organisations still struggle to get women to take on leadership roles and stand for election to boards and committees. As we start a new decade, it is important pharmacists have a strong collective voice that can represent the sector on a variety of issues.
For NAWP, a number of different networks will help to inform the organisation and extend the representation provided by the PDA. There are many issues where female pharmacists want a space to express their perspective and where male pharmacists can show support.
NAWP will be able to focus on ensuring more women pharmacists have the support to develop their leadership potential, whether in the pharmacy or in supporting organisations. They will be able to focus on issues that are important to its members.
With the PDA’s resources, they will be able to turn those discussions into campaigns and policies that can change the profession for the better. No doubt some of these issues will be debated at the PDA’s conference in Birmingham in March.
Female speakers include a pharmacist-turned-MP, the head of the Norwegian pharmacists’ union, an executive director of the Equality Trust, the president of the profession’s UK student association and a PDA divisional lead in its network at Boots.
Delegates will also hear from the PDA legal team about some of their members’ defence cases, including their largest ever pay-out for a wronged pharmacist.
Claire Ward is director of public affairs at the Pharmacists’ Defence Association.