On March 8, CUPE Ontario joins numerous other organizations communities around the world in commemorating International Women’s Day (IWD).

CUPE Ontario recognizes the importance of connecting global and local struggles, and of approaching various systems of oppression with an interwoven fightback strategy. Representing 280,000 public sector workers within the province, we are proud that a majority of our members are women, and that our members are enriched and guided by the deep understanding that labour and feminist struggles are one in the same. IWD, for instance, was first celebrated in commemoration of the 1908 strike by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Today, perhaps more than ever, these connections between women’s and labour rights need to be highlighted and strengthened. In Ontario, under the Ford Conservatives, we are up against a government that has ushered in policies which have disproportionately impacted women. 

This government announced its intention to cut funding for Ontario’s rape crisis centres just days ago; they have since shown signs of backtracking because of the outrage from advocates, which is a testament to what our movements can achieve. This government responded shamefully to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s order to end the gender pay gap experienced by midwives by appealing the decision. In addition, this government has pushed widespread funding cuts in the public sector, limiting and sometimes entirely scrapping services that women rely on in disproportionate numbers. 

Our movements, however, are strong and they’re growing – and this is due to the efforts and passion of women, here and around the world. CUPE Ontario’s Women’s Committee continues to highlight concerns like domestic and sexual assault, working on organizing our members around critical issues, and empowering women to become leaders in our union. On March 8, in Toronto, we’ll join our community for a rally and march, united under the theme of “The World is on Fire – We Are Rising”.

CUPE members in Ontario are deeply committed to women’s rights. This International Women’s Day, we redouble our efforts in the fight for equality and to empower our union sisters and all women through political advocacy, bargaining, and mobilization.