International Women’s Day, March 8, is a day to celebrate the achievements of women, here at home and around the world.
It’s also a day when we re-commit to improving the lives of girls and women everywhere.
There is no shortage of places to start.
In the past year, the federal election and the Jian Ghomeshi trial have drawn attention to violence against women. Algonquin College’s venture in Saudi Arabia has highlighted the importance of access to education for girls and women. And Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has opened the door to a public debate about women’s wages.
There is a lot to work to be done.
As a public sector union, OPSEU is deeply committed to women’s equality. We should be: two out of three OPSEU members are female. So for the past year, we’ve been stepping up the fight, especially in the area of women’s wages.
We’ve attended meetings of the government’s Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee. We’re supporting the Equal Pay Coalition. We’ve published opinion pieces on the wage gap. And we’re adding new ideas to the debate.
Kathleen Wynne says she wants to reduce the wage gap between men and women. Yet her government’s central policies are doing the opposite.
By cutting billions from wages in the most female sector of the economy – the public sector – the Premier is making the wage gap wider. By taking those billions and pouring them into construction – a sector that is 88 per cent male – she is making the wage gap wider. By shrinking the public sector through privatization, she is making the wage gap wider. By choking off funding for pay equity at hundreds of small agencies, she is making the wage gap wider.
This is our message, but one day is not enough to get our point across. So we’re doing more.
From now until Equal Pay Day, April 19, OPSEU will be saying more, and doing more, on the gender wage gap. Starting March 7, we’re running radio ads across the province. Soon we’ll have advertising around Queen’s Park. As Equal Pay Day approaches, we’ll be in key newspapers, too.
When it comes to women’s issues, we are on the front line, leading. Happy International Women’s Day!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union