(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) Sussanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, released the following statement today on International Women’s Day:
Today, all over the world, we celebrate the accomplishments and progress of women. We acknowledge the courageous work being done by so many in the struggle for justice and equality. And we rededicate ourselves to the work of true gender equity, as we recognize the long road still ahead of us.
This pandemic has both exposed and deepened inequities for women, gender-diverse individuals, Indigenous, Black and other people of colour, and people with disabilities. Many of them have been on the front lines, getting us through this pandemic even while they were among those most exposed to its dangers. Thousands of others saw their jobs disappear almost overnight. And with the disruption of schools and child care, countless families were left balancing work and child care — a responsibility that fell overwhelmingly to women.
It’s clear we need to do more to support women through this pandemic. Perhaps even more important, as our province reopens and recovers, we must make the very most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a province that truly upholds our values of equity and justice.
Last year, we crafted a course for recovery charted through an intersectional gender equity lens. It includes specific actions that range from pay equity legislation and an anti-racism strategy to additional investments in childcare and support for programs that lift up women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace.
That’s a start. But no recovery can really succeed without far more representative participation in the rooms where decisions are discussed and made. That means including women – and particularly Indigenous women, Black women and women of colour – and gender-diverse people at decision-making tables in all levels of government and within our organizations.
And for those of us in the labour movement, even as we celebrate the remarkable progress we’ve made in recent years, we embrace our responsibility not to close the door behind us — but to open it wider. To claim power so we can share it. To make this movement bigger and broader by opening it to all who share a commitment to justice and equality.
To all who share that commitment, here in British Columbia and around the world, a very happy International Women’s Day.