The month of October marks Women’s History Month in Canada. Over the month, Canadians celebrate and honour the countless women in our country who have pushed for progress.
“It is on the shoulders of these women that we stand; because of their perseverance and determination as activists, we have the rights and resources that we do now,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Director of Women’s Department. “Women’s History Month reminds us all of how far we have come, but also reinforces that we must honour the legacy we have inherited and continue to fight for change.”
As part of Unifor’s commitment to this front, the Women’s Department has long advocated for effective pay equity and universal child care at the provincial and national levels. In pushing for these measures, activists call for women’s equality, workforce participation and poverty reduction to be prioritized in our communities and reflected in budget decisions.
From raising awareness in communities from coast to coast to coast, to rallying for progressive change, to actively participating in government consultations, the Department has been at the forefront of developing and implementing multifaceted solutions to the systemic barriers to women’s equality. In addition to this, the Women’s Department has developed various resources that address women’s issues in the workplace and beyond. Resources include tips on forming a local union women’s committee, as well as insights on bargaining domestic violence leave policy and program.
The Women’s Advocate program is another way in which Unifor activists are charting the way forward. The program trains workplace representatives to assist women with concerns such as workplace harassment, intimate partner and domestic violence and abuse, and to provide support for women accessing community and workplace resources.
Several education courses are also offered in collaboration with the Education Department, to equip members with tools to advocate for women’s economic and social equality. Courses allow participants to reflect on and discuss a wide range of issues such as women’s work, history and activism. The variety of offerings prepares activists to advance their leadership on numerous fronts, from bargaining to organizing to engaging in political action. Click here for the listing of courses offered.
This year, Women’s History Month was themed #MakeAnImpact, acknowledging the contributions of many women, from all walks of life and from all across Canada. Paying homage to their integral contributions to the labour movement, here are some of the women activists who have played a crucial role in advancing workers’ rights.