It’s a time for us to celebrate and recognize the contributions women have made to building our union, the labour movement, and our country. It’s also a time to reflect on the unprecedented challenges women face due to the pandemic.
During the first wave of COVID-19 in Canada, CBC reports women’s participation in the workforce dropped to 55% – the lowest in nearly 25 years. Job losses were staggering in fields where women work, including restaurants, hotels and retail. The economic impact was felt by many 1006A members, working in the hospitality and service sectors which experienced closures to contain the spread.
For women, the impact of COVID-19 was intensified by the persistent gender wage gap. Annually, women on average make 30% less than men, with racialized and indigenous workers earning even less. That discrepency combined with the lack of childcare options, means more women are staying home. At home, the gender gap has meant women are handling the bulk of household chores and caregiving during COVID-19.
The pandemic has also led to an increase in gender-based violence, which is more severe and frequent, reported CTV. With closures, and increased stressors, women face increased challenges in escaping abusive and violent situations.
It’s clear that COVID-19 had a widespread impact on women’s lives, from their health to their economic security.
While we wait to emerge from the pandemic, it’s vital that we reflect and commit ourselves to making women’s lives better across this country. We must raise awareness and take action on the challenges that women face.
Together, we commit to eliminating the gender wage gap, so women are paid equally to men for work of equal value.
Together, we commit to advocating for universal, not-for-profit childcare so women can choose to remain in the workforce.
Together, we commit to ending violence against women because our sisters, daughters, mothers, and friends deserve to be safe.
This Women’s History Month, join us in not only celebrating the progress we have made, but working with your union to tackle these challenges and build a fairer and more equal world for all.