On International Women’s Day, March 8, CUPE Ontario members proudly join people from all over the globe in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. We also reaffirm our commitment to the fight for gender equality and women’s rights.
The annual event is as much about the women’s movement as it is about the union movement, since its commemoration emerged from labour actions in North America and across Europe at the turn of the 20th century.
Women’s issues are union issues. When unions are committed to organizing for things like access to affordable childcare, achieving equal pay, and ending sexual violence, this helps all working women.
CUPE women make up 68% of our union’s membership and have a rich history of standing up for women’s rights, whether in the workplace, at the bargaining table, in political action, or in our communities. Our organizing efforts in conjunction with our partners at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care to advocate for the development of a universal, high quality public child care system is one example of this.
Our members are also working with the Equal Pay Coalition to end the gender wage gap. In Ontario, women workers earn an average of 30% less than men—a gap which is even higher for racialized and Aboriginal women, young women, women with disabilities, LGBTQ women and immigrant women.
This year’s International Women’s Day march, comes on the heels of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which has given women a strong voice against sexual harassment, violence and discrimination. Dozens of powerful men in all industries from entertainment to politics are being held accountable for their unacceptable behaviour towards women. Finally, after years of being forced to live in silence, women are being heard and believed.
CUPE women have a long history of working to eliminate gender-based violence. CUPE Ontario’s Sexual Violence Working Group is currently working on creating survivor-centric processes for dealing with sexual assault in our union.
There’s a strong call-to-action for CUPE women to be politically active in the 2018 provincial, municipal and school board elections. We need more women to run for office, vote and get involved in election campaigns for candidates who will fight for women’s issues.
CUPE Ontario is committed to fighting for gender equality, and this International Women’s Day we are redoubling our efforts in the fight for fairness and social justice for all women.