Toronto – March 2, 2015 – International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually across the world every March 8th. The origins of International Women’s Day arose from the struggles that women faced at the turn of the 20th century, including dangerous working conditions, long work hours, meager pay, and no right to vote.
While the roles and rights of women have advanced since the first IWD, the struggle still has far to go. In Canada, the Harper government continues to ignore women’s voices in this country. One shameful example is the flagrant disregard for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, despite all evidence pointing to a need for action. The refusal to support a nationally funded, universal, quality, childcare program is another way the current federal government has ignored the needs and challenges facing women and their families.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to take a stand on women’s issues, synonymous with human rights issues in Canada. This year’s theme is Make It Happen, which is timely as we approach a federal election where women and family issues must be part of the debate, and on the agenda of the next government. Since women are more likely to be the main caregivers in the home and more likely to fall below the poverty line, gender inequality will continue unless the actions of those in power address this reality. Yet, Harper has yet to commit to participate in a public debate on women’s issues in this election year. Canadians deserve better, and they can make it happen by replacing the Harper regime with a new government that is family and worker friendly. We must also strive to change some other election outcomes, as in 2011 only 25% of those elected as Members of Parliament were women.
In 2014, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon noted, “countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. And parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.”
UFCW Canada is proud to support International Women’s Day activities and events commemorating this important date. In this election year, Making It Happen is also about taking political action to ensure that women’s perspectives are addressed when looking at systemic barriers and societal challenges to real equality and opportunity.
In the words of Gloria Steinem, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”.
PRM, National President