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March 8 is an annual, internationally recognised day that acknowledges and honours the struggle of women in their fight for women’s rights, equality; it is also a celebration of women’s progress. In 1857 on March 8, women textile workers in New York City boldly stood up for their rights and demanded decent working conditions and a livable wage. For their collective courage these women faced brutal force but then later formed their own union. On an international scale the first International Women’s Day (IWD) however occurred in 1911 as a result of collective organising by women workers from over 17 countries who were pushing for women’s enfranchisement.
In recognition of these incidents, that are a culmination of historical struggles that women internationally have fought for equality, justice, rights and fairness, March 8 was designated as International Women’s Day. Many unions, including CUPE, participate in IWD events and continue to play a role in recognising the work of women and their demand for equality, justice, and good jobs.
In our current context, women continue to face discrimination and inequity in Canada and throughout the world, and recognising International Women’s Day provides and an important opportunity to reflect on the continued inequity of women and the need for all of us to work for social change. On this International Women’s Day, all CUPE members are encouraged to participate in their local community events.