Friday, October 7, 2022

Women’s History month

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Women’s History Month.
In 1992, the Canadian government designated October as Women’s History Month as a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women throughout history and in the present. Women’s History Month includes International Day of the Girl (October 11) and Persons Day (October 18).
This year’s theme, She Did, So Now I Can, celebrates the actions of women who fought to improve, and positively impacted the lives of Canadian women.
Women fighting for equality throughout history
Canadian women have fought hard to gain equality and to end discrimination in all its forms.
In 1946, Viola Desmond was arrested when she refused to leave after being ordered out of a movie theatre’s “whites only” section. She devoted the rest of her life to combating racism and injustice. In the same year, Carrie Best co-founded The Clarion newspaper, using its pages to advocate for the elimination of racial discrimination.
In 1985, Mary Early and Indigenous activists across the country successfully lobbied to have sex discrimination removed from the Indian Act, reinstating the Status Indian rights of thousands of Indigenous women and children.
In 1988, Justice Bertha Wilson participated in the Supreme Court’s ruling in R. v. Morgentaler, striking down Canada’s existing abortion laws. In her written judgment, she focused on women’s rights to liberty and security of the person.
These are just a few of the Canadian women trailblazers that improved the lives of women and all Canadians.
Union women making a difference for all
Within the Canadian labour movement, there are numerous milestones to recognize and celebrate as well. Union women have been making a difference for decades.
In 1937, Léa Roback helped establish the International Garment Workers Union in Montreal and led a strike of les midinettes (the dressmakers) that galvanized more than 5,000 workers.
In 1975, the members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) elected Grace Hartman as its national president making her the first woman to lead a national union in North America.
In 1986, Shirley Carr became the first female president of the Canadian Labour Congress.
Six of the National Union of Public and General Employees’ 11 Component unions are led by female presidents.
The theme She Did, So Now I Can is the heart and soul of how union women feel. Working with their unions, these activists know that they are not only working to improve the lives of women in the labour movement but the lives of all Canadian women. Union women with their activism have worked hard to gain pay equity, universal childcare, and paid maternity leave. They've worked to end gender-based violence and discrimination, ensuring the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and visible minorities, reproductive rights, and so many other gender-based issues.
“Throughout my time in the labour movement I’ve been fortunate to have had strong women all around me,” said New Brunswick Union President Susie Proulx-Daigle. “I learned from them, sought their advice and now I’m trying to do the same for the next generation. This month is an excellent chance to learn more about the tremendous contributions of women to our country and inspire future generations.”