International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of the past and ongoing efforts to build a world where all people are truly equal. The values and activism that women bring to our movement are integral to CUPE BC and the entire labour movement.
Women are leaders throughout our union–in CUPE District Councils, on CUPE BC’s executive board, on the CUPE BC Women’s Committee, and as members of local executives throughout the province.
On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate the first gender-balanced provincial Cabinet in British Columbia’s history, after 16 years of working to defeat the BC Liberals and elect a BC NDP government. That Cabinet includes two sisters from the CUPE family. All CUPE members should be proud of the appointments to Cabinet of Airline Division member Lisa Beare (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) as Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and former CUPE national president Judy Darcy (New Westminster) as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. And former CUPE national staffer Rachna Singh was elected MLA for Surrey – Green Timbers.
In addition to gender balance in the Cabinet (including Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James), the new BC NDP government has also introduced the first steps toward a universal provincial child care program, backed up with an historic $1 billion investment.
Progress is never easy, and hard-won gains must always be defended against those who would strip them away. CUPE BC has always been at the front lines of the fight for equality, and we always will be. We take inspiration from the amazing grassroots campaigns for women’s equality like the #metoo and #timesup initiatives that have focused so much attention—finally—on the issues of men’s violence against women and systemic discrimination against women.
The struggle for equality is always at the forefront of our thinking at CUPE BC, whether in the workplace, at the bargaining table, in political action, or in our communities.
As we observe and celebrate International Women’s Day, let us remember the words of the great union song, “Bread and Roses,” reminding us that the struggle for women’s equality is not “just” a women’s issue, it needs to be a struggle for us all:
“As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.”
To see CUPE National’s statement on International Women’s Day, click here.