On International Women’s Day, CUPE Ontario celebrates the achievements of women, including women in our union, and recommits to taking on the fight for gender equity.

Women face political, social, and economic struggles that lead to their continued marginalization. It is by taking on these fights that we build the resistance required to achieve a more equitable society for us all.

Women face a huge fight against the agenda of Ford’s Conservatives. This government’s agenda of cuts and privatization hurt us all, but much of this agenda has a disproportionate impact on women. Cutting promised increases over the next two years to rape crisis centre funding means inadequate supports for survivors of sexual violence. A $15 million dollar cut from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which helps fund initiatives like the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, means that child care advocates have less support. Even more wide ranging in its effects on women, the cancellation of the $15 minimum wage increase means that our most vulnerable workers, the majority of whom are women, have less economic freedom. Ontario’s most marginalized are being disproportionately hurt by Ford’s cuts.

But while facing political turbulence, women continue rising up. From challenging cuts to autism funding, to students walking out of the classroom to challenge the physical and health education curriculum rollback, women and girls have been at the forefront of protecting what we have and fighting for a better Ontario. Women are also making a concerted effort to amplify the voices of racialized and Indigenous women, LGBTQ women, women with disabilities, young women, and women who are immigrants. Our successes cannot be on the backs of others; women’s liberation depends upon the liberation of us all.

The 2018 Women’s Conference focused on the importance of women taking action to become more involved in their unions, their communities, and their government. We quickly saw impact of this in the 28 women who ran for positions on the Women’s Committee. As we gear up for this year’s federal election, we know that women have the power to create political change.

Within CUPE, women make up 68% of our union’s membership. They have been at the forefront of standing up for women’s rights, whether in the workplace, at the bargaining table, in political action, or in our communities. Women’s issues are union issues. When unions are committed to working with coalition partners and organizing for things like access to affordable childcare, achieving equal pay, ending sexual violence, and fighting all forms of discrimination and inequity, this helps all working women. There will be no economic justice until there is equity for all.

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