As we mark International Women's Day, I want you to ask yourself, what kind of world do you want for your daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and loved ones?
As a father and union leader, I want to help build a better world not just for my children but for everyone. That means continuously working, alongside our Women's Issues Network, to help eliminate the gender pay gap, to end violence against women and to help create a more equal world for all.
If we don't do the work now to create positive change, it will be a burden that our daughters and loved ones will continue to carry in their lifetimes. We can do better. We must do better for the women who have helped shape and build our communities and workplaces for the better and for the generations that will follow.
The gender wage gap is one of the heaviest of burdens. Women, on average, continue to earn 29% less than men for work of equal value. For racialized,Indigenous and Black women, the gap is even greater. When women are not paid fairly, it affects the financial security of their whole family and their ability to contribute to their communities and the economy.
Violence against women is another devastating reality that so many are grappling with. An astounding 67 percent of Canadians know a woman who has been physically or sexually assaulted. Our union works to support local shelters for women and children, and undertake awareness campaigns to end violence. All women and children deserve to be safe at work and in their communities.
For far too long, women continue to be under-represented in the highest levels of organizations and government. Despite making up more than 50 per cent of the workforce, women keep coming up against the glass ceiling of entrenched discrimination and prejudice. How much better will our governments, organizations and communities be run if more women were in positions to create change.
The pandemic has had a widespread impact on women, from the loss of jobs, to reduction in hours. Women, who have borne the brunt of childcare responsibilities, have withdrawn from the workforce while others have dealt with escalating violence at home.
So while we celebrate International Women's Day, we must also commit ourselves to action. We cannot leave these challenges for another day or someone else to undertake. Sometimes, the smallest steps can make the biggest difference. It could be as simple as a quick conversation with a friend on these issues, or raising awareness about these issues on your social media account or joining one of our many campaigns. Change starts with us, so let us get started.
President, UFCW Canada Local 1006A