This year, women will celebrate International Women’s Day with a renewed sense of strength. In many places around the world women are taking stands against sexual harassment, and sexual violence. While in North America this is often connected with what is called the #metoo movement, it is also happening in countries as diverse as India, Ireland and Japan. We know that sexual violence is still common – in particular women who are Indigenous, racialized, trans, homeless, or sex workers are disproportionately at risk. In war zones, rape is a weapon.
After protracted intransigence at the bargaining table over fundamental human rights issues, a long over-due intervention by the government, and a united and militant fight against concessions put up by the union with the full support of the public, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers finally has a tentative two-year deal with Canada Post.
The deal halts managements vicious attack on the workers’ pensions, preventing two-tier pensions. It doubles paramedical benefits for Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers, who are predominantly women, raising extended healthcare benefits for these workers to the same level as urban operations. While the illegal gendered 28% pay gap between urban and rural employees remains, the union did win a major human rights victory, establishing a process to finally resolve this shocking pay discrepancy within nineteen months.
This March 8, International Women’s Day, is time to celebrate our history of struggle for equality, and to unite in action for a better and more just world. In Canada we celebrate the defeat of the anti-women Harper Tories, who shut down virtually every federal agency or service which supported women’s equality, closed Status of Women Canada offices, eliminated funding of women’s organizations which engage in advocacy, passed Bill C-36 (which endangers the lives of sex workers) and blocked legal avenues to fight for pay equity.