March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD). This is a time when people from all over the world unite to celebrate the achievements of women, trans women, Two-spirited, and non-binary people, and work to develop concrete strategies and polices to help eliminate gender discrimination as it exists today. On IWD, we honour feminist trailblazers and take heed of their fight for social justice and inclusivity by standing on their shoulders, and continuing the work that remains.
Over the last century, significant strides have been made in removing systemic barriers faced by women. And women today are represented across a wide range of disciplines and leadership roles, acting as role models to young women and girls everywhere. We have come a long way.
Unfortunately, much work remains to be done. In many workplaces, for instance, women continue to be subject to a gender wage gap. As of 2021, women in Canada make on average 89 cents for every dollar a man makes. Placing its focus on this very problem, the upcoming Equal Pay Day will be commemorated on April 4. This date is a powerful symbol of how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
In its many forms, women also experience far higher volumes of gender-based violence – within workplaces, at home, and in their communities. Racialized, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA2S+ women are at even higher risk of experiencing acts of gender discrimination. OPSEU/SEFPO remains steadfast in its commitment to calling out violent, abusive, or discriminatory behaviour and works to continuously support vital community services, such as women’s and children’s shelters.
OPSEU/SEFPO proudly represents tens of thousands of women working in the Ontario Public Service, Broader Public Sector, colleges, and universities. “Every day, millions of Ontarians rely on the valuable frontline work of OPSEU/SEFPO members, and amongst them, the many courageous and inspiring women activists – standing together to speak up against misogyny, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and anti-Black and Indigenous racism, in their relentless fight for justice,” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO.
OPSEU/SEFPO is deeply committed to ending all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence. Member-driven groups, like the OPSEU/SEFPO Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) are key advocates for women’s rights in the union. “The PWC enacts initiatives to address women’s issues, and provides support to women in our membership and within our communities,” said Dianne Clarabut, Chair of the PWC.“OPSEU/SEFPO members are making real differences for women in Ontario.”
This year, members of the PWC will attend the United Nations’ 67th Session on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. This is a major global conference that draws in leaders, Non-Governmental Organizations, activists, and private sector representatives to engage in conversation and assess progress on gender discrimination. The conference concludes with an established set of standards for member states to implement as concrete policies.
This International Women’s Day, let us remind ourselves that true change rarely occurs all at once. For this reason, we must always fight for better and take responsibility as benefactors to the next generation.