Women around the world are rising up for equal rights, against war, and for environmental and climate justice. In India, women are at the forefront of massive protests against the reactionary, Hindu nationalist BJP government of Narendra Modi. Women in Chile have taken to the streets in the anti-austerity marches, and their anti-sexual violence protest song and dance has spread across the globe. Cuba is modernizing its Family Code, the main legal framework for family life and relations, and again leading the way for gender equality.
Indigenous women in Canada and throughout the world face disproportionate levels of brutal racist violence. Today they are leading the fight to defend their lands and culture from imperialist resource extraction and environmental degradation.
But there are also growing far-right and fascist movements, exerting influence or even holding power in a number of countries. At the heart of these movements is misogyny. These movements call for laws that strip women’s reproductive rights, weaken sexual violence policy, and push back to deny rights won by Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (2S/LBGBTIQ). These movements demand to confine women primarily to child-bearing and care-taking roles.
While the Federal Liberal Government claims to be feminist, their policies and decisions perpetuate violence against Indigenous women and territories. This deepens and expands gendered and racialized economic inequalities, and imposes austerity and war both at home and abroad. This capitalist agenda is incompatible with the demands of working-class women from all communities for peace, equality, democracy and economic and social security for themselves and their families.
Women in Canada are more likely to live in poverty. Comparing hourly wages, women earn and average of $0.87 for every dollar earned by men. Racialized women make only 67 cents for every dollar a man earns. Comparing overall earnings, women (who disproportionately work in part-time jobs) have annual incomes that average just 69% of men. Women’s work is often precarious and contingent, especially in the service industry and academia. Women face unemployment, underemployment, and employment unrelated to training. Increasingly they are working without benefits or even accruing holiday time. Immigrant and refugee women often do not know what rights they have, or benefits that could be available. Women face sexual harassment (even assault) at work, home and on campus. There is a shortage of services for women who have experienced violence. Women face inadequate access to health care – particularly abortion services in many rural parts of Canada. Islamophobia is often genderized, as seen by who is most negatively impacted by Quebec’s Bill 21. Racialized, Indigenous, trans, women and women with disabilities are disproportionately negatively impacted.
Which way forward for women in Canada?
We need to build coalitions of women from groups and movements like Wet’suwet’en solidarity, Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, Labour Women’s Committees, Childcare Advocates, 2S/LGBTIQ, disability, student and pro-choice. We need to mobilize to win a progressive, anti-capitalist women’s program in our communities and across our country.
We refuse to wait any longer for equality. We need to unite and organize!
The Communist Party of Canada demands Full Gender Equality NOW:
- Restore funding for women’s equality programs.
- Close the wage gap – legislate full pay and employment equity.
- Guarantee accessible and publicly funded abortion and reproductive rights services in every province and territory.
- Create a universal, accessible, affordable, quality, public childcare system, with Canada-wide standards and union wages for childcare workers.
- Protect women’s right to EI maternity coverage; expand parental benefits to 52 weeks.
- End the attacks on transwomen and defend their rights.
- End all forms of violence against women and provide adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses. Repeal Harper’s Bill C-36, which effectively criminalized sex workers.
- No to Islamophobia! End US, Canadian, and NATO intervention in the Middle East. Zero tolerance for Islamophobic and gendered violence, and open Canada’s doors to immigrants and refugees. Repeal the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. Repeal Bill C-31 and other unconstitutional and undemocratic security state laws. Repeal Quebec’s Bill 21.
- Repeal the Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.
- No to austerity. No to war. People’s needs – not corporate greed!
- Full implementation of the Calls to Justice in the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry Report.
- Full solidarity to the Wet’suwet’en and to other First Nations struggling to block pipeline projects. Demand a People’s Energy Policy for Canada, based on genuine implementation of the terms of UNDRIP, public ownership of the energy industry, and dramatic steps to cut Canada’s carbon footprint.
Central Executive Committee & Women’s Commission, Communist Party of Canada