October 18 marks Persons Day in Canada. This day was established after the 1929 proclamation that marked women as persons and they should have the right to political participation and sit in the Canadian Senate.
At the beginning of the last century women mobilized to gain the right to vote, stand for election to federal and provincial legislatures, and the right to sit in the Senate. Unfortunately these rights were not distributed equally to all women and were achieved at a slower rate for Aboriginal women, working-class women and racialized women.
While 2016 also marks 100 years since the first women in Canada gained the vote and the right to stand for provincial election, and there is much to applaud about the advancement of women’s rights, there is still more to do!
Women today continue to struggle with and are oppressed by sexism and systemic barriers that prevent their full and equitable participation in society. Some of the barriers for women are rooted in economics, including: the lack of accessible and affordable public child care; financial inequalities and the growing wage gap; a low minimum wage that is not a liveable wage; a lack of employment equity; and the prevalence of gender-based harassment and violence at work, in the household and in our communities. Other barriers are created because of sexist, misogynistic attitudes and behaviour towards women and girls, racism, homophobia and transphobia and ableist ideas that suppress and leave women behind.
To make change and truly advance women’s equity, Unifor will continue to act, to speak out and tackle the barriers that prevent full and equitable participation and personhood. Our union will push for progress at the bargaining table, in government meetings, in electoral politics and in rallies on the streets.
To strive for greater representation and create space for a diversity of women’s voices in government, Unifor is working to change the current electoral system in Canada. Our commitment to electoral reform is about securing the transformation of a system that often prevents diverse voices, including racialized and Aboriginal women, from being elected and being at the decision-making table. To learn more about the Unifor electoral campaign, visit: www.unifor.org/electoralreform
Together, we must continue to act and hold the Federal and all provincial and territorial governments to account to fulfill the historical promise of the Persons case.