March 8, 2017 — Every year on March 8, OSSTF/FEESO members join with women’s organizations, other unions, and workers all over the world in marking International Women’s Day.
This is a day on which we celebrate the countless social, political and economic achievements of women in Canada and around the world, as well as the significant advances in women’s rights brought about by the tireless work of activists over the years.
We in the labour movement can proudly point out that many of those advances have been brought about through gains made by unions. Provisions for pregnancy/parental leave, family care leave, health and safety improvements and pay equity all point to the important role that unions have played in improving the lives of women and their families.
OSSTF/FEESO and other Canadian Labour Congress affiliates continue to fight for women’s equality, most recently by lobbying the federal government for the establishment of a distinct Pay Equity Commission, as well as a Pay Equity Tribunal with clear and broad enforcement authority.
We continue to fight because there is still so much work left to do. Even in the world’s most developed nations, women still do not enjoy all the same rights, privileges and opportunities as men. Equal rights may exist in legislation, but sexist and misogynist attitudes persist in many circles and continue to impact the lives of virtually all women, sometimes with tragic results. Gender violence remains rampant. Women are still seriously underrepresented in leadership roles in the world of business and in our legislative bodies. Women in Canada still earn only 72 cents for every dollar a man earns, and 59 percent of minimum wage earners in Canada are women. So yes, while many advances have been made over the years, true equality has yet to be achieved.
As education workers, OSSTF/FEESO members play a key role in advocating for and advancing the rights of women and girls. Through our partnerships with organizations like the White Ribbon Campaign and coalitions advocating for pay equity and better childcare, and through our involvement in campaigns such as Sisters in Spirit and Women’s Memorial Marches, we will continue to work for women’s rights and equality.