International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years and is rooted in the labour movement. Union’s have long been on the frontline of the fight for gender equality with CUPE leading the way in Canada. In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day.
There is still much work to be done to achieve gender equality. In almost every aspect of life, women continue to experience discrimination. Women continue to earn less than men and they experience gender-based violence at work and at home far more often than men. Women are still expected to be the caregivers for children and parents and carry most of the burden of household work, even when they work outside of the home full time. The situation for racialized women is even worse. In addition to the discrimination they face as women, they have the added layer of racial discrimination. And if you’re an Indigenous woman, you are dealing with the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, as well as the lack of real change as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. Indigenous women are among the most disadvantaged in our society.
Sherry Hillier, president of CUPE Newfoundland Labrador, says, “On this International Women’s Day, CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to the struggle for gender equality. We will not take one step back! CUPE and other unions have played a key role in advancing the issue of gender equality. Collective agreements contain provisions to eliminate or alleviate discrimination. As a woman union leader, I am personally dedicated to the cause of equality. On this day we celebrate the accomplishments of women while keeping always in our minds the road ahead. There is lots to be done, and we will not stop until all Canadians are equal in every aspect.”
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the situation is dire. Although the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report “The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2019: The Gender Gap in Canada’s 26 Biggest Cities”, ranks St. John’s second of the 26 cities studied, the gender wage gap is the highest in Canada, according to a Conference Board of Canada 2017 report.
“I celebrate our accomplishments on this day and am happy to acknowledge that our capital city is a great place for women to live, but it is time for women to earn at the same rate as men. We have been fighting for pay equity far too long. And it is time for all women to feel safe at work, at home and in public,” says Sherry Hillier. “CUPE Newfoundland Labrador looks forward to assisting our members, and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, to achieve a truly equitable Newfoundland and Labrador.”