On March 8, CUPE Ontario’s 280,000 members mark International Women’s Day. We do so in the recognition of its roots in working class activism, having emerged when 15,000 women marched in New York in 1908 for better wages and shorter working hours.

Since then, women have won remarkable gains. But the work is not nearly done.

Today, as we collectively still face the challenges of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, we’re witnessing that some among us bear the brunt of it more than others.

In Ontario and elsewhere, it’s women, disproportionately Indigenous, Black, racialized, and immigrant who still work on the frontlines of the pandemic, still too often without the PPE or paid sick days they need and deserve. It’s women in this province who are likelier to be low-wage workers, subjected to a minimum wage that’s never kept up with the actual cost of living, in no small part because of the acts of governments like the Ford Conservatives. And it’s only Ontario that has failed to sign a childcare agreement with the federal government, an agreement that would significantly support women who still largely carry a the responsibility of childcare.

Longstanding problems, like domestic violence, have only been escalated during the pandemic with Ontario’s Assaulted Women’s Helpline reporting significant increases in the number of calls about gender-based violence. And there are reports of more frequent incidents of violence in the workplace, with women disproportionately facing the brunt of this trend too. CUPE Ontario knows this all too well because many of our members are front-line – women, and racialized – and we have worked hard to tell this story with reports from both our health care and our school board sector.

But none of these developments have made us despair about our future. Through collective action, solidarity, and hope we have always resisted and organized to win the improvements we need.

Today, side by side with allies seeking justice for all, we continue that struggle, and we recommit to fighting all forms of sexism, in our province, our communities, and in our movements. The work isn’t nearly done but the seeds of hope that have undeniably been planted continue to grow.