International Women’s Day: March 8

March 8th is recognized as the International Women’s Day.  It is a day to celebrate and rejoice in women and girls’ social, economic, cultural, and political achievements.  We take this time to raise awareness of progress made towards equality and the challenges that we still face.

We can trace the origins of the International Women’s Day to the early 20th century where we saw reflecting in labour movements across North America and Europe a call for women’s equal participation in society. While the first International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 19, 1911, the United Nation went one step further and recognized 1975 as the International Women’s year.  Today, we see March 19th as a day of unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action for women in many countries across the world.

The United Nation’s Motto for this year’s International Women’s Day is:  Invest in Women – Accelerate progress.  Investing in women is a human rights issue.  Investing in women benefits us all. 

Women are facing key challenges, still to this day.  More and more women have been forced to live in poverty, especially since the pandemic. The evidence is clear, this crisis is gendered.  Women’s participation in the workforce fell to its lowest point in thirty years.  An estimated 342 million women and girls will be living in poverty by 2030. Women are losing their right to choose in some states in the U.S.  How often do we see cutbacks by the government on public spending that negatively impact women and their essential services?  Too often.  We need to support women the best way we can. We need to allow for more space, safer space, for women to have a voice and allies to amplify that voice.

With that said, the Union for National Employees (UNE) has partnered up with the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) for a March 8th Project : 2024 OFL March 8th Project Celebrating International Women’s Day Diversity Grows Our Strength | The Ontario Federation of Labour. The OFL has been supporting Women’s organizations across Ontario for more than a decade.  In 2024, the project enters its 14th year. 

To celebrate this day and the diverse women who have persisted, showed immeasurable strength and leadership, you can wear a OFL 2024 Diversity Grows Our Strength lapel pin or t-shirt to display your solidarity and sisterhood.

Unions, community organizations, activists and the public are invited to take part in the annual March 8 Project by ordering merchandise and any surplus made from the sales will be donated to organizations that help women.  In the past, such donations were made to organizations such as the Ontario Equal pay Coalition, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Hub Club youth camps, the Strawberry Ceremony honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Rise up! feminist digital archive, various women’s shelters and Indigenous women’s organizations.

Mireille Jaillet
UNE National Equity Representative for Women