The following is a recent catalogue of the committee's motions to the Annual Representative's Conference.
This ARC notes a disturbing trend where women, and young men in some instances, have acting opportunities denied them unless they agree to go nude. It is recognised that there might well be instances where the script dictates the actor be scantily clad but experience shows that nudity is rarely needed in the hands of a skilled director. However, it would appear many commercial enterprises are making money this way out of glossy blockbusters and so-called "art-house" productions. Equity's young members are seeing a proliferation of castings where nudity is required and many are uncomfortable and alarmed. We owe a duty of care to our young members in an industry which can so easily exploit their vulnerability.
Actresses fear the word "actress" becoming synonymous with "tart/loose woman" again, an enormous backward step for Equity which has striven since 1930 to give our members dignity and respect. This trend for using women overtly in outwardly respectable co-productions reinforces the need to step up our campaign against the invisibility of the older female member and the denigration of our younger members as it reinforces further the portrayal of females as merely a decorative or sexual adjunct to a drama.
We call on the union to seek through FIA a full debate on this issue, to bring about a united voice to confront the industry and to include in the PACT film agreement and other collective agreement negotiations clauses which strengthen protections against explicit sex scenes and nudity.
This ARC commends Jennifer Siebel Newson for directing the award winning American film, Miss Representation, which explores how media misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. This film was recently screened by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image at an invited screening in the House of Commons. This ARC believes a UK version of Miss Representation should be produced to challenge the media’s portrayal of women and highlight the lack of positive female role models across all media platforms.
Conference urges the Equity Council to approach the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, with a view to taking forward the idea of producing a UK version of Miss Representation. Equity is ideally positioned to make the necessary contacts with leading UK-based women who may wish to be involved in this important film.
This Annual Representative Conference recognises and supports the union’s policy of incorporating the issue of equality into all of our industrial efforts. However, it is the view of Conference that the issue of gender equality has lost the focus it needs. Not only are 50% of our membership women, over 50% of the population are female and it is a fundamental right of all women to be treated equally.
Women members in our industry will always be at a disadvantage until the balance in the workplace better reflects the gender balance of society. Conference therefore calls on the Equity Council to recognise that gender equality continues to be identified and even more strongly and argued for as part of any industrial and political strategies. This should follow the lead and models offered by the International Federation of Actors' Handbook of Good Practices to Combat Gender Stereotypes and Promote Equal Opportunities in Film Television and Theatre in Europe."
In the trade union movement a number of unions reserve seats on their governing bodies to guarantee women’s representation. The Women’s Committee is extremely concerned that at the last Council election far fewer women than men stood for Council, resulting in the election of even fewer women than men to Council. On the general list (which represents seventeen seats on Council) only four women were elected, despite the fact that fourteen stood for election. Rather than call for reserved seats for women on the Equity Council at this time, This Annual Representative Conference requires the Equity Council to set up a mentoring scheme for women members as a positive action measure designed to address the underrepresentation of women on the Equity Council. This mentoring scheme will be designed to give women members the opportunity to learn about the work of the union and its democratic and decision-making structures; the fundamental aim being to encourage women members of all ethnic backgrounds to stand for election to Council. Mentors will be Equity Councillors (both male and female) and the detail of the mentoring scheme will be drawn up by the Equalities Officer to be approved by Council.
This Annual Representative Conference calls on the Equity Council to instigate a co-ordinated strategy among the different departments of the union and in collaboration with the Women’s Committee to tackle the systemic bias within the entertainment industry which deprives women members of jobs. This is in response to the International Federation of Actors report ‘Age, Gender and Performer Employment in Europe’ and the Gender Equality Duty (April 2007) which aims to promote equality of opportunity between men and women.
This Annual Representative Conference applauds the Equity Council’s renewed commitment to equal opportunities and its support for the creation of an Equalities Officer post. Conference recognises that promoting equal opportunities is a core trade union activity and that positive action measures, such as the Diversity Conference, are required if we are to deliver equality of opportunity for members from minority and under-represented groups. Conference welcomes the recent coverage of equality issues in the Equity magazine and Review of the Year and Equity’s active participation in FIA’s Changing Gender Portrayal research project. Conference urges the Equity Council to continue to promote equal opportunities as a priority.