“International Women’s Day needs to be a time to demand action.” — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (08 March 2018) — The theme the labour movement has adopted for International Women’s Day is #DoneWaiting. Linked to the theme are 3 of the more serious problems women face: wage discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, and the child care crisis.
“Women have seen sexual harassment and violence wilfully overlooked. We’ve heard the same empty promises on wage discrimination or child care year after year. And we know that waiting patiently for governments to act will accomplish nothing,” said Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer for the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “International Women’s Day needs to be a time to demand action.”
Good intentions not enough
In addition to being 3 of the biggest barriers to women’s equality, what the problems of wage discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, and the child care crisis have in common is that solutions require significant increases in public spending. Whether it’s more child care spaces, funding for pay equity, or funding supports for survivors of violence or harassment, governments need to be prepared to fund the services needed to remove barriers to women’s equality.
“Unless they are willing to match their good intentions with the increased spending needed for women’s social and economic justice, having governments that describe themselves as feminist is not enough,” said Ballermann.
#DoneWaiting website provides tools for action
The Canadian Labour Congress's website provides tools to take action on wage discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, and the child care crisis. In addition to background information and specific measures governments should be implementing, the site includes a form for people to contact their members of parliament to demand action.
Building on momentum
The past few months have seen significant progress on public attitudes. The #MeToo movement has created the potential for change that seemed unimaginable a few months ago.
But progress is not inevitable.
“What will bring women closer to equality now is exactly what has made gains in the past: making demands and backing up those demands using the tools we have as union members and as citizens,” said Ballermann.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE