Toronto – September 27, 2019 – Every October, UFCW Canada celebrates Women’s History Month, which honours the many struggles and contributions that women have made to advance gender equity in Canada. Women’s History Month allows us to reflect on how far we have come in strengthening women’s rights and working towards gender equity, while acknowledging how far we have to go in these areas. Consider that, while Manitoba was the first province in Canada to extend voting rights to women in 1916, it took until 1960 for this right to include Indigenous women.
And if you thought that gender inequity was a problem of the past, remember that Canada ranks 35th in the world on issues surrounding women’s equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. As well, in their “Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2019” report, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) notes that while women make up 48 percent of Canada’s labour force, they represent only one-third of management positions in the country.
At UFCW Canada, we believe in the value of addressing child care issues, violence in the workplace, gender parity, and actions supportive of women’s rights. To this end, we have asked our national committees to incorporate sexual violence, bystander intervention, and gender parity issues into their day-to-day work. We have also launched a national institute specifically designed for women and racialized workers to develop their leadership skills within the union and in their workplaces. Progress takes time, but when it is done consciously and supported by organizational leadership, we can raise the bar on inclusion.
Lastly, with the 2019 Federal Election just around the corner, we cannot honour Women’s History Month without recognizing the efforts of the courageous women who came before us. Women such as Agnes McPhail, who in 1921 was the first woman elected to the House of Commons, or Rosemary Barton, who was the first black woman in Canada to be elected to a legislature. But there is still much more room for progress when it comes to women in politics, as there are currently no women premiers governing in Canada.
On October 21, your vote matters. Make sure you vote for a party that will advance women’s rights and treat gender equity as a fundamental priority. You can raise awareness of these issues by using the hashtag #UFCWWomenVote on social media, and sharing the UFCW Votes website with your friends, family, and social networks. And for more information on UFCW Canada’s work to advance women’s rights, visit our Women & Gender Equity website.
Paul R. Meinema