On the occasion of International Women's Day 2012, we
in the front ranks of every battle taking place across the country
to defend public right over monopoly right, defend social programs
and represent the very best to which Canadian working people have
given rise. Similarly, women all over the world are in the
forefront of the fight to provide a way forward for themselves,
their families and peoples. Their role in the fields of political,
economic, cultural and social rights, and against imperialist war
is crucial to turn things around.
Women's leading role in all the struggles taking place
is part of a continuous line of march of women's conscious
participation in all the important battles since the first
International Women's Day in 1911. As women celebrate International
Women's Day 2012 they affirm this essence of the day as a
celebration of women's organization and resistance as a contingent
in the fight for a society of socialized humanity in which the rights
of all are recognized.
Across Canada, women's opposition
to the neoliberal
anti-social offensive is part and parcel of the working class
movement which is developing its own independent politics so as to
resolve the crisis in a manner which favours the interests of the
society, not the rich. As the producers of the wealth society
depends on and as those who bring into being and raise the next
generation of society, women stake their claim on the wealth they
produce and demand it be used to fund the social programs which are
required to provide the rights of all with a guarantee. This
includes the right to health care, the care and security of seniors,
child care, education and recreation for children and
youth, and all the things human beings require to flourish.
The past year since the centenary of International
has been one of stepped-up resistance of the workers and broad
sections of the people to the nation-wrecking agenda of the Harper
government and to the monopolies' imposition of their dictate. In
all these battles women have stood second to none. This is so
whether we speak about the postal workers' and Air Canada workers'
resistance to the government's criminalization of their right to
collectively fight for their wages and conditions of work, the
fight of manufacturing workers against the demands of monopolies
for concessions and the wrecking of their sectors, of the farmers'
vigorous opposition to the destruction of the public wheat board,
or the public sector workers' defence of their rights and of the
social programs which they deliver, including city services, health
care and education.
Through their conscious
participation in challenging
right and the Harper dictatorship women are learning what more has
to be done to turn the situation around in favour of the people.
This is the challenge for the coming year, that women bring the
full weight of their numbers, determination and social
consciousness into the class battle so as to be effective in
challenging the dictate of the monopolies and of the governments
acting in their service. Only when confronted by a conscious,
organized and determined Workers' Opposition can the global
monopolies, Harper dictatorship and other levels of government be
held to account and forced to recognize our rights.
On the question of International Women's Day also the
government and its current anti-women Minister for the Status of
Women are intervening on the side of monopoly right, once again
recycling "Strong Women, Strong Canada" as the theme and now
targeting the women of "rural, remote and northern communities" as
the key to "economic prosperity" -- that is to line them up as
allies in the plunder of the resources of these areas in the
interests of the monopolies in their global competitions. Far from
it, the strength of the women of all the northern
forestry, mining and other communities is that they are part and
parcel of the movement to demand that the natural wealth be
developed for the benefit of the regions and the society. So too
the women of all the Aboriginal and Inuit nations are demanding a
say and control over what happens on their lands. Such talk shows
the desperation of the Harper government to block the collectives
of women and all who are fighting for a society fit for human
beings, for a pro-social program, and for a Canada which stands
against war and aggression.
Women's Security Lies in Our Fight for
Rights of All!
Build the Workers' Opposition
Women in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities
-- Second to
None in the Fight for a
New Direction for the Economy
- Dagmar Sullivan -
On February 16, Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works
Government Services and Minister for Status of Women announced the
for International Women's Week 2012 as "Strong Women, Strong Canada --
Women in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities: Key to Canada's
Economic Prosperity." In her announcement she said: "Our Government is
committed to sustaining Canada's position as one of the world's
top-performing economies. Women are important to that success story...
every region of Canada, women -- particularly, in rural, remote and
communities -- play important roles in their families and communities,
key to Canada's economic prosperity."
When Minister Ambrose says "Our
Government is committed
Canada's position as one of the world's top-performing economies," the
question automatically arises: Whose Economy? The Harper government is
committed to sustaining the position of the monopolies in Canada in the
economy in rivalry with their competitors and at the expense of the
and people and our sovereignty. Ambrose is dreaming that the women of
remote and northern communities will line up behind the Harper
nation-wrecking project of handing over the wealth of the nation to
monopolies with the accompanying destruction of whole communities and
surrounding environment. The Keystone XL pipeline, the Northern Gateway
pipeline, Quebec's and the federal government's plans to hand over the
mineral wealth of the far north to foreign mining interests while
destruction of the mining and forestry industry in northern Manitoba,
Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia and the destruction of the
Canadian Wheat Board are just a few of the anti-social projects the
communities, including the women, have come forward to vigorously
As the Workers' Opposition increases its resistance to
attacks on their
collective rights in
the more populated parts of Canada, Ambrose and company are
fostering the illusion that women in rural and remote parts of the
lack the organization necessary to resist the assault on
their way of
life and the
impact on the environment they live in. She is covering up that the
the Prairies who fought against the destruction of the Canadian Wheat
the women of northern communities across Canada who are fighting
the destruction of their mining and forestry communities, the women --
and non-Native -- of Alberta and BC who are fighting against the
taking up their fight as part of the fight in defence of the rights of
workers and women across Canada stand with them as one. Any attempt to
marginalize the women of rural or remote areas or Canada's far north is
cause. The workers, women, youth and Native People are fighting to
nation-wrecking of the Harper government in the service of the
They are fighting as one for a new direction in the economy that will
guarantee the rights of all.
The Wage Gap Revisited
- Christine Nugent -
There is a lot of speculation in the monopoly media
nowadays about whether that other f-word -- feminist -- should be used.
It is suggested nobody wants to call themselves a feminist any more and
that feminism has no relevance in the 21st century. Such is their
wishful thinking. So long as society fosters exploitation and
oppression, women will be in the forefront of fighting for
emancipation. Discrimination against women is society's problem, not a
"women's problem" and as such, getting rid of it is a task facing the
working class that has taken up the battle and won victories in pay
equity, unionization and other fights, through strikes and persevering
through lengthy and costly court cases to achieve the rights of women
as we know them today.
Those who hold political and
economic power have
declared that there is
no such thing as a society that takes responsibility for the
well-being of its
members -- just look at how they are trying to privatize public
services to the
hilt. It is for this reason that women are taking the lead in
organization against the rule of the governments at all levels which
monopoly right over public right. They are taking up opposing the cuts
wages and jobs in order to maintain the gains they have made in various
and further fight for their rights to economic well-being.
Because of the situation facing women, the
intensification of the anti-social
offensive, wrecking of manufacturing and other nation-wrecking
a particularly profound impact on us. Women have made great strides in
moving towards having equality with men in the areas of levels of
and employment and have successfully won pay equity settlements
in the public sector. However a look at the latest statistical report
situation of women in the economy confirms that women must continue to
on the front lines.
The recently released Statistics Canada report, Women in
Canada: A Gender-Based Statistical Report 2010-2011, provides
data that explores
and trends related to gender equality in the fields of women's family
education, employment, economic well-being, unpaid work and health.
Consider women's earnings. Women continue to have lower
annual earnings than men. In 2008, women earned an average of $30,200
annually -- or about 65 per cent of the approximately $46,900 that men
earned. A similarly disturbing gender discrepancy comes across
considers earnings and age:
Table 2 Average total
income in dollars of women and men, by age group, 2008
When it comes to earnings in relation to education
levels, there is of
course a positive relationship between how much education one has and
average income. However, again, there is a huge gap between what is
by women compared to men.
Table 9 Average annual earnings of women and men
employed full-year, full-time, by educational attainment, 2008
Less than grade 9
certificate or diploma
Average annual earnings excludes Canadians with no earnings. Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of
Labour and Income Dynamics .
These are just some of the examples given in this
These statistics remind us that the question is not
whether one is feminist
or not. The issue is how to marshall the strength of our numbers and
organization to collectively rectify the injustices women face and
anti-social offensive and in doing so bring all of society that much
1. The 2011 report is the sixth
such report. The first
was published in 1985 and came out of the United Nations Third World
Conference on Women in Nairobi where it was assessed that the lack of
reliable data prevents the assessment of relative improvement of
status in various sectors. The conference concluded that investment in
evolving adequate gender-specific data was needed. The full report can
accessed at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-503-x/89-503-x2010001-
Justice for Missing and Murdered
Aboriginal Women and Girls!
The Harper Government Must Be Held to Account!
- Janice Murray -
This International Women's Day the more than 600 missing
murdered aboriginal women and girls will be remembered across the
country. Women's organizations have been demanding that the Canadian
government be held to account for their inaction in providing a
comprehensive strategy for addressing
the root causes and consequences of the extreme violence against
Aboriginal women and girls.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of
Against Women (CEDAW) has announced it will conduct an inquiry into the
murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls across Canada.
The Committee, composed of 23 independent experts from around the
world, is the UN's
main authority on women's human rights.
The Committee is to initiate an Inquiry under Article 8
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination against Women, signed by Canada in 1979 because of
Canada's failure to act promptly and effectively to address the
violations of the human rights of Aboriginal
women and girls.
The Convention is a form of international bill of rights
The Committee initiates an inquiry under Article 8 when it receives
"reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a
State Party of rights set forth in the Convention."
In January, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for
International Action (FAFIA) submitted a request to the Committee that
Canada was in
violation of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
- by failing to adopt policies, programs, and strategies
adequately address the serious and longstanding extreme violence
against Aboriginal women and girls;
- by failing to ensure that all public authorities and
institutions, national and local, do not engage in racial
discrimination against Aboriginal women and girls;
- by failing to dismantle institutionalized racism that
in child welfare, social assistance, policing, justice, and prison
policies and practices, even though these are root causes and major
contributors to the systemic pattern of violence against Aboriginal
women and girls; and
- by failing to take special and concrete social and
measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of
Aboriginal women and girls, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the
full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
FAFIA requested the Committee:
- To urge Canada to cooperate fully with this Committee,
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, as well
as other treaty bodies and special mechanisms, to design measures that
will effectively and adequately address the disappearances and murders
of Aboriginal women and
girls and ensure that Canada is fully discharging its obligation to
exercise due diligence to prevent, prosecute and remedy the violence
- To urge Canada to invite the Committee on the
Discrimination Against Women to visit Canada, so that it can conduct
its Article 8 inquiry in Canada, and have the opportunity to meet with
Aboriginal women and girls in their own communities.
- To urge Canada to initiate a national inquiry into the
disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women and girls that will lead
to the design of national, cross jurisdictional mechanisms and
protocols for police and justice officials, and national, cross
jurisdictional programming to address the conditions of social
and economic disadvantage and the root causes of the violence.
- To urge Canada to include in its national inquiry a
child welfare, social assistance, housing, criminal justice and
policing policies, practices and measures and to identify where
systemic correction is needed to dismantle institutionalized racism.
FAFIA's previously submitted reports to the Committee in
2008 and its 2009 report was entitled "No Progress: No Action." In its
January 2012 request, FIFA provided updated information.
Rally for missing
Aboriginal women, Vancouver,
February 14, 2011. (Media Coop)
Amongst this information, FAFIA reported that the Harper
after announcing $10 million in its March 2010 budget "to address the
disturbingly high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women,"
stopped funding the NWAC research and data collection project, Sisters
in Spirit. The project's reports were essential and reliable, and
provided support for the families of the missing and murdered
Aboriginal women and girls through the careful and sensitive research.
Instead, money was allocated to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to
set up their own database and reporting centre and other of the funds
were allocated to set up school and community-based pilot projects,
victim services, community safety plans and programs for youth with
high risk lifestyles, many of which are not designated to deal with
The allocation of funds was decided without consultation
Instead NWAC was informed that under the Status of Women's Community
Fund, no research, policy development or advocacy can be funded, and
thus there would be no further funding for Sisters in Spirit.
FAFIA reported, "The Government of Canada has used
funding -- the
giving, withholding and setting terms for it -- as a means of
controlling and restricting the activities of non-governmental women's
organizations and of NWAC, and the Sisters In Spirit project in
particular, because their work has exposed
grave and systematic violations of the human rights of Aboriginal women
and girls in Canada."
FAFIA reported too on the British Columbia government's
Women Commission of Inquiry, led by former Attorney General Wally
Oppal as Commissioner. This is an inquiry into the facts, police
and official decisions involved in the Robert Pickton case. The
British Columbia denied
funding to groups to participate in the inquiry, including Aboriginal
women's groups, as well as to national and provincial Aboriginal
organizations and to organizations that provide services in Vancouver's
1. Article 8, Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
If the Committee receives reliable information
indicating grave or
systematic violations by a State Party of rights set forth in the
Convention, the Committee shall invite that State Party to cooperate in
the examination of the information and to this end to submit
observations with regard to the information concerned.
2. Taking into account any observations that may have
by the State Party concerned as well as any other reliable information
available to it, the Committee may designate one or more of its members
to conduct an inquiry and to report urgently to the Committee. Where
warranted and with the
consent of the State Party, the inquiry may include a visit to its
3. After examining the findings of such an inquiry, the
shall transmit these findings to the State Party concerned together
with any comments and recommendations.
4. The State Party concerned shall, within six months of
the findings, comments and recommendations transmitted by the
Committee, submit its observations to the Committee.
5. Such an inquiry shall be conducted confidentially and
cooperation of the State Party shall be sought at all stages of the
Missing and Murdered Aboriginal
Women and Girls in
The Native Women's Association of
Canada (NWAC) reports
that as of
March 31, 2010, it recorded information for 582 cases of missing or
murdered aboriginal women. "Of the 582 cases, 115 (20 per cent) involve
missing women and girls, 393 (67 per cent) involve women or girls who
as the result of homicide or negligence, and 21 cases (4 per cent) fall
under the category of suspicious deaths by natural
or accidental causes but which family or community members nonetheless
There are 53 cases (9 per cent) where the nature of the case remains
meaning it is unclear whether the woman was murdered, is missing or
NWAC further reports that between 2000 and 2008, 153
cases of murder
have been identified in NWAC's Sisters In Spirit database. These women
represent approximately ten per cent of the total number of female
in Canada despite the fact that Aboriginal women make up only three per
of the total female population in Canada. The majority of women and
NWAC's database were murdered, while 115 women and girls are still
The majority of disappearances and deaths of Aboriginal
women and girls
occurred in the western provinces of Canada. Over two-thirds of the
were in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
A great majority of the women were young. More than half
of the women
and girls were under the age of 31. Measures designed to increase
take into account the needs of young Aboriginal women and girls.
Many of the women were mothers. Of the cases where this
known, 88 per cent of missing and murdered women and girls left behind
children and grandchildren. These children must have access to
appropriate supports to deal with this trauma.
Aboriginal women and girls are as likely to be killed by
or stranger as they are by an intimate partner. Aboriginal women and
girls are more likely to
killed by a stranger than non-Aboriginal women. Almost 17 per cent of
charged were strangers.
Nearly half of murder cases remain unsolved. Nationally,
53 per cent of
murder cases have been cleared by charges of homicide, while no charges
been laid in forty per cent of cases. However, there are differences in
rates by province. The clearance rate for murdered women and girls
from a low of 42 per cent in Alberta to 93 per cent in Nunavut.
The majority of cases occurred in urban areas. Seventy
cent of women and
girls disappeared from an urban area and 60 per cent were murdered in
Most Aboriginal and human rights organizations agree
that the actual number of
women and girls missing or murdered is much higher.
For Your Information
History of International Women's Day
German communist Clara
Zetkin (left) put forward the historic resolution to establish
International Women's Day
at the Second
Conference of Socialist Women held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1910
International Women's Day was initiated by the Second
Conference of Socialist Women held in 1910 which passed a resolution to
establish it as a day which would agitate for the rights of women to
in the political affairs of their countries, in addition to their fight
rights as workers. This included the vigorous strikes of U.S.
garment workers, in particular the 1909 New York needle trade workers'
"Uprising of 20,000." The resolution was unanimously adopted by the
100 women delegates from 17 countries attending, among whom were the
three women elected to the Finnish parliament. The resolution was put
by German communist Clara Zetkin.
March 19, 1911 was the date set for the first
International Women's Day
and rallies held in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on that
were attended by more than one million women and men. The following
women in France, the Netherlands and Sweden joined in actions marking
International Women's Day.
In the following years International Women's Day was
marked in more
and more countries. This was a period when women were fighting for
right to vote, within the context of the fight for universal suffrage.
were also entering the workplace in increasing numbers and waging
struggles against their conditions of brutal exploitation.
In the period leading up to the declaration of World War
I, the celebration
of International Women's Day opposed imperialist war and expressed
solidarity between working women of different lands in opposition to
national chauvinist hysteria of the ruling circles. For example, in
International Women's Day was an occasion when speakers from one
would be sent to another to deliver greetings.
Russian women observed their first International Women's
Day in 1913
under conditions of brutal Tsarist reaction.
In Russia, International Women's Day 1917 was a time of
against the Tsarist regime. Workers, including women workers in textile
metal working industries, were on strike in the capital city and
Russia's participation in the imperialist war raging in Europe was
March 8 (February 23 on the Julian calendar), women in their thousands
poured onto the streets of St. Petersburg in a strike for bread and
women factory workers, joined by wives of soldiers and other women,
demanded, "Bread for our children" and "The return of our husbands from
trenches." This day marked the beginning of the February Revolution,
led to the abdication of the Tsar and the establishment of a
The provisional government made the franchise universal,
equal rights for women. Following the October 1917 Revolution, the
government implemented more advanced legislation, guaranteeing in the
workplaces the right of women to directly participate in social and
activity, eliminating all formal and concrete obstacles which
meant the subordination of their social and political activity and
subservience to men.
March 8 officially became International Women's Day in
Bulgarian women attending the International Women's Secretariat of the
Communist International proposed a motion that it be uniformly
around the world on this day. March 8 was chosen to honour the role
by the Russian women in the revolution in their country and, through
actions, in the struggle of women for their emancipation