Toronto – March 8, 2013 – For 36 years the United Nations General Assembly has recognized International Women's Day (IWD) in order to celebrate the advancement and contributions of women, based on the premise that global peace and genuine social progress require women to be fully equal and active participants in society.
Held on March 8, IWD is a day for reflecting on past struggles and accomplishments while reminding the world that continued vigilance and action are required to ensure that women's rights are achieved and maintained in all aspects of life.
This year's IWD theme is "The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum," which speaks to the growing global momentum for women's equality. In Canada, for example, women now lead six of our provinces and territories and comprise the majority of university graduates.
However, there are still many areas where women are not afforded the rights, respect, and compensation that they deserve.
On average, working women in Canada earn roughly one-third less than men for equal work of equal value. Stephen Harper's Conservative Government has yet to introduce a national, publically-funded child care system, despite the fact that subsidized child care empowers more women to enter the workforce and reduces their risk of living in poverty. Our Employment Insurance (EI) system fails the 40 percent of Canadian women who work part-time, as they typically do not bank enough hours to qualify for EI benefits if they need to take a maternity leave or happen to lose their job. And violence against women remains a serious, unresolved problem around the world.
That is why UFCW Canada fights to break down the systemic barriers that our sisters continue to face. By organizing non-unionized women workers, speaking out against gender-based discrimination in the workplace, and helping to elect family-friendly governments, our union strives to secure a fairer, more fulfilling, and progressive future for all women. Indeed, UFCW Canada’s identity – what our union stands for and aspires to be – has largely been shaped by women.
On this International Women's Day, let us celebrate the accomplishments of our sisters while renewing our commitment to achieving meaningful change moving forward.
Wayne E. Hanley