March 8 is International Women’s Day: a time to celebrate the achievements of women and reflect on the actions we can all take to advance gender equality. This year’s theme in Canada is “Women inspiring Women,” highlighting the powerful women leaders that exist in every part of our country.
Gender discrimination and oppression has been allowed to exist for centuries. This injustice is a systemic problem which we all have a responsibility to fight against. Gender equality is not simply a “woman” issue, but a social and economic issue. Supporting women’s empowerment means strengthening every area of our society. When our society becomes one of true gender equality, we all benefit.
OPSEU/SEFPO proudly represents tens of thousands of women working in Ontario’s public services. The majority of our union’s members are strong, inspiring women who keep this province going. They have been on the front lines of this pandemic, protecting and saving lives of Ontarians during one of the most difficult times we’ve ever been through.
Despite their significant contributions to our society, women continue to face gender discrimination every day. This discrimination is evident in our workplaces, in the form of gender biases and the gender wage gap, amongst many other challenges; it is evident in our homes, where women often carry a disproportionate amount of the child care, elder care, and household responsibilities; and it is evident in our communities, where violence against women increases every year.
When speaking of gender equality, we must also recognize the different experiences of discrimination and oppression that women face. For example, racialized, indigenous and LGBTQ women often earn even less than their non-racialized, cisgender counterparts, and trans women face discrimination and hate crimes daily.
Gender inequality is a systemic issue which OPSEU/SEFPO remains committed to fight against. OPSEU/SEFPO’s Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) leads initiatives regularly to end the gender wage gap and support women in our membership and within our communities. This International Women’s Day, and every day, we commit to standing alongside all women and continue the push for progress toward a truly equal Ontario.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer
Dianne Clarabut, Chair of the Provincial Women’s Committee