Ending Discrimination

International Women’s Day 2014: Inspiring Change

March 4, 2014

International Women’s Day is an occasion to reflect on the progress we have made toward achieving fairness, equality and justice for women in Canada and across the globe. It is a time to be inspired by the change we have achieved together, and to renew our resolve to continue to work hard on the unfinished business.

When workers stand together for fairness, we can be a powerful force for women’s equality and positive change, at the workplace and in society. We have improved women’s wages, narrowed the gender wage gap, negotiated benefits, leaves and other provisions to help women balance work and family responsibilities. We help make the workplace safer, challenge harassment and discrimination. We have helped open doors to women working in trades and technology and we build women’s leadership and political participation. The change that unions have achieved is indeed inspiring.

But there is so much more change needed.

Canada’s labour movement continues to push for leadership to address Canada’s child care crisis, and is working hard to expand the Canada Pension Plan so everyone can retire in dignity and security.

On December 6th, 2013 the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University launched a groundbreaking national survey on the impact of domestic violence on workers and workplaces. It is the first-ever survey of its kind in Canada. Our intention is to provide made-in-Canada research that will help unions, employers, advocates and governments develop good public policy as well as negotiate workplace supports. We hope to inspire a change in the way we think about violence at home and how it reaches the work place, and find ways to make our workplaces safer.

We know the workplace is not always a safe place for women. One in ten women aged 18 to 24 reports having experienced sexual harassment at work within the previous 12 months. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), five percent of women who died at work in 2012 were killed as a result of gun violence. Half of Canadian women will experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In Canada on any given day, over 3000 women (along with their 2500 children) are staying in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. These statistics are even far worse for refugee and recent immigrant women, women living with a disability, indigenous women and girls, racialized women and trans women.

The Canadian Labour Congress believes that we cannot end violence against women and girls without looking at the pressure that living with violence at home puts on their lives at work.

On International Women’s Day, we are inviting our members and all workers to help us find ways to make workplaces safer by filling out our survey and encouraging others to do the same.

The CLC survey is online and available in English and French until June 6, 2014. All workers over the age of 15 are encouraged to complete the survey, whether or not they have personally experienced or witnessed domestic violence. The survey is completely anonymous and takes between 10 and 30 minutes to complete.

The survey will help break the silence about violence in the workplace and the impact of violence at home.

Let’s work together to inspire change for women and for all workers. Acknowledge and stand up against violence in the workplace, at home and in the community.

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