Every year on March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day – a day that recognizes the achievements of women around the world.

But it also acts as a day to bring attention to the issues women still face even in our modern society.

It is a day that has been highlighting women’s struggles for over a century starting in 1908 when 15,000 women took to the streets of New York City to march for voting rights, shorter hours, and fair pay. This eventually spread internationally in 1910.

This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange, which is described as a ‘call on the masses’ to form a more ‘gender inclusive world.’

This year International Women’s Day will also coincide with the official ‘Day without a Woman’, put on by the same women who organized the Women’s March. They ask that women take a day off from paid and unpaid labour and wear red in solidarity.

The organizers said that the day is to recognize ‘the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.’

Women still face uphill battles, especially when it comes to the workplace. It is estimated that it will take 170 years to reach gender equity – that’s a long time.

Canada has a long way to go for gender equity. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Canada has the 8th highest gender wage gap of 34 industrialized countries.

Unions have played a major role when it comes women’s rights in the workplace, including the Teamsters who have contracts that have lead the way when it comes to gender equality. This is guaranteed in a collective agreement that can ensure that women will be paid equally for equal work.

Teamsters also has an annual women’s conference with thousands of women from around North America that come together to hear speakers, attend workshops and participate in union building activities.

A report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research  showed that women in unions receive ‘better pay, and greater access to employer-provided health insurance, paid sick leave and retirement, among other gains.’

According to the Canadian labour Congress, union members earn on average $5.28 per hour more than workers without a union and women earn $7.10 per hour more on average with a union.

No matter your gender, job or whether you are a union member or not, it is important to recognized International Women’s Day.