Toronto – March 6, 2014 – On March 8th, people around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day, which was established by the United Nations in 1975. The day arose from the struggles that women endured at the turn of the 20th century, when population growth and a change in working conditions saw many women facing long hours and receiving low pay in comparison to their male co-workers.
While the global community has made significant strides in advancing women’s rights since then, we have yet to achieve full equality for women in all parts of the world. And that is why raising awareness of the inequities that women face remains as important as ever. For example, the fact that women workers in Canada earn an average of 32 percent less than their male co-workers is completely unacceptable and needs to change.
It is appropriate, then, that this year's International Women’s Day seeks to convey the message that "Equality for Women is Progress for All." Indeed, with women comprising more than half of UFCW Canada's membership, our union constantly advocates for gender equality and fights to break down the systemic barriers that our sisters continue to face.
We do this by marching in solidarity with the families of missing and murdered women and demanding a national inquiry into the hundreds of cases that remain unsolved; by lobbying governments at all levels on issues such as child care, domestic violence, and paid family leave; and by engaging and training women members through webCampus courses such as Organizing for Women Activists, among others.
UFCW Canada also strives to achieve a fairer, more fulfilling, and progressive future for all women by organizing non-unionized women workers, speaking out against gender-based discrimination in the workplace, and helping to elect family-friendly governments. In fact, UFCW Canada’s identity – what our union stands for and aspires to be – has largely been shaped by women.
So, on International Women's Day 2014, let's celebrate the accomplishments of our sisters while renewing our commitment to achieving meaningful change moving forward. As Gloria Steinem once said, "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."
Paul R. Meinema