Want a sustainable, successful economy? Welcome more women to the decision-making table, says BCFED

March 8, 2022 | Statement

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) The BC Federation of Labour released the following statement today:

We are marking International Women’s Day at a time when women have been carrying more than their share of the pandemic. Over the past year, we’ve been humbled to see the courage of women facing war abroad, the climate crisis and the painful legacy of residential schools.

This year’s United Nations IWD theme, Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, recognizes two realities. Women are those most affected by climate change around our planet. And the full participation of women in decision-making positions at every level is critical to addressing both its impacts and its causes.

Welcoming women, trans and non-binary people to leadership positions contributes to policy that works for everyone — and this is a particularly crucial time in making the transition to a sustainable, just economy. Women must be at every table where economic recovery is being discussed — and that this representation must reflect the full intersectional diversity of women and the need to make continued progress on the path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Hearing and heeding women’s voices is essential to building a sustainable future that encompasses everyone.

Opportunities for good-paying union jobs abound in adaptation and mitigation; it’s crucial that these opportunities are available equitably, especially in sectors that have been traditionally male-dominated. The Paris Agreement highlighted the critical role of unions and collective bargaining in ensuring those sustainable jobs. Community Benefits Agreements offer an important route to that equity, and we’re particularly proud of the ground-breaking work BCCWITT is doing to build rewarding futures for women in trades.

It's important as well that as our economy rebuilds, we recognize the central role of women in the care economy. So many who deliver these vital services are in precarious, underpaid jobs. And a huge share of that economy relies on the unpaid work of women — who, globally, do three times as much unpaid care work as men. Many of those in these positions are immigrants, racialized women and migrant workers. Investing in and expanding publicly-funded care services, along with addressing the misclassification that so often deprives women of basic employment protections, will help ensure everyone has more equal access to quality care.

As a movement, we have much to celebrate as we mark International Women’s Day — including an unprecedented number of women leading major BC labour unions. But we also know we have a great deal of work to do in centering and valuing the voices of women who reflect the multifaceted range of Indigeneity, race, disability, gender nonconformity, economic class and experience of working people. Today we recommit to that work, and to solidarity with women everywhere.