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March 8th Should be a National Public Holiday

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Dear sisters and brothers:

For the past 99 years, March 8th, International Women’s Day, has been celebrated at thousands of events attended by millions around the globe.   And rightly so.  

Over the past century, the women of the world have launched countless struggles for gender equity, social and economic justice and for peace.  Every nation and every community has benefited.  From pay equity to safer work places; from reproductive choice to fair access to professional schools, we stand on the shoulders of sisters who organized across the country.  

It’s very important that on this day we recognize the incredible contribution by the women’s movement to progress on so many fronts.   Where would we be today if feminists had not fought for equality and human rights, for improved social services, public safety and healthcare; for an end to violence, for environmental protection, anti racism, affordable housing, international peace, childcare and voting reform?

So again this year, over a seven week period there’s over 50 IWD events in Canada including rallies, marches, films, lectures, art shows, career fairs, fundraisers for shelters and wellness events.  This is happening from Vancouver to Dawson Creek, across the prairies to Toronto and Kingston and on to Moncton.   Working women, teens, parliamentarians and our Governor General are all joining events to recognize what has been achieved – and to continue organizing for fairness.

Next year, in the spring of 2011, as we in OPSEU celebrate our centenary, International Women’s Day will have just been celebrated for the 100th time.    But next year’s IWD should be different.   It should be a national public holiday; a statutory day off work.

 What better reasons can there be for a national holiday than formal recognition of the struggle by Canadian women for equality and their immense contribution to our quality of life?

The time is right.  2011 is the 100th anniversary of IWD.  We have a minority federal government with a majority of votes held by two social democratic parties and one liberal democratic party.   They can make this happen in the House of Commons. 

The labour movement can take the lead in our communities. Let’s launch an effort with NUPGE and all our progressive allies to make March 8th, 2011 the first International Women’s Day holiday in Canada.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President

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