Women leading the three largest labour organizations in Canada is not an accident. Celebrating this leadership of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Toronto and York Region Labour Council is only one consideration.
The painful reality is that women need to lead, as it is women in healthcare, education, and in frontline work in general that have suffered the greatest burden of right-wing/ Conservative attacks on workers. They have suffered this never ending patriarchal attack while caring for our most vulnerable and our most cherished, our children.
Speaking only to celebrating the vast and profound accomplishments of women around the world is indeed necessary, but in 2023 many millions of women do not celebrate. They scratch out an existence due far too often to the regressive policies of governments like the Doug Ford government in Ontario or the UCP government of Danielle Smith in Alberta.
International Women’s Day in 2023, and in the years to come, must accept and challenge or the celebration is very likely to become less and less about celebration and more and more about lamenting how much is being lost – being lost despite the inspired leadership of women.
The very fabric of social progress hangs in the balance unless workers see their future in a unified voice and this voice must be loud and committed to voting in the interests of social progress, trade union rights, women’s rights and human rights in general. It is said often that if union members voted together and voted for political parties that will push social progress instead of governments, such as those previously mentioned, that right wing leaning parties could be excluded from government forever. This no less true for women.
Women must accept the challenge to align against the Fords, the Smiths, and the Poilievres to ensure that International Women’s Day continues to be a continuum of progress and not a day lamenting losses that could have been corrected by huge turnouts on election days and votes that lead us to socially responsible progress.
The Grey Bruce Labour Council continues to honour International Women’s Day by making significant financial contributions to organizations providing services to women in a time of crisis. For several years, this donation has been made. Although such a donation remains absolutely necessary, it is hoped that such a donation permits a bit of a celebration on International Women’s Day that most “at risk” women and children in our communities might not otherwise have.
The Grey Bruce Labour Council has been the voice of Labour in our region since 1956.