Important to Recognize International Women's Day

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.

Supporting Gender Equality In The Workplace

There is no disputing that we have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.

Canada has the 8th highest wage gap in industrialized countries and we have even been criticized by the United Nations because of this.

While the wage gap is a huge problem, there are also the issues of maternity leave, lack of managerial roles, harassment and domestic violence.

We recently saw women around the world gather to support equal rights and labour unions have always been a big part of that movement.

Download Our Guide On How To Know If Your Workplace Needs A Union!

Here are three things you can do for gender equality in your workplace today.

1.     Educate yourself and others

If you are feeling like you are being discriminated against in the workplace due to gender, educate yourself about it. Being part of a union offers a great opportunity to do this. There are training sessions and even large international conferences on women’s rights such as the Teamsters Women’s Conference.

2.     Reach out to someone you trust

One of the best aspects of being a union member is that it is like being part of a family. You know you can trust them to stand behind you, which can be especially helpful when you are faced with gender discrimination. Unions make sure that you are paid fairly and always treated equally. If you feel you are not, you can reach out to a shop steward or business agent to address the issue.

Download Our Guide On How To Know If Your Workplace Needs A Union!

3.     Support Each Other

No matter what gender you are, you should support your fellow employees in the workplace to make for an overall better environment. If you see someone being treated unfairly, try to support them in whatever way you can. Whether that is offering someone resources or just lending an ear to listen. An inclusive workplace is better for everyone.