This year, women will celebrate International Women’s Day with a renewed sense of strength, after almost 5 million women and their allies took to the streets around the world on Jan. 21 to oppose the xenophobic, racist, misogynist, homophobic, Islamophobic and pro-war agenda of Donald Trump and his government of Wall Street bankers, billionaires and oilmen. This march was a display of resistance against patriarchal violence, inequality, exploitation and oppression perpetuated by capitalism across the globe. Several lasting unity principles came out of the march, including support for economic equality, women’s right to freedom from violence, full reproductive rights and freedom, full equality rights for the LGBTQ community, racialized peoples, workers, immigrants, those with a disability, for civil rights and environmental justice, and against police brutality and racial profiling, demilitarizing law enforcement and ending mass incarceration.
This powerful women’s movement is needed in Canada now more than ever, with our self-styled feminist prime minister who believes gender equality means creating a gender-balanced cabinet to carry out anti-women, pro-business policies such as the approval of the Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL Pipeline projects. Indigenous women are at the forefront of resisting this policy, along with the occupation of lands, theft of resources, and colonial gendered violence which all continue under the Trudeau Liberals. The government’s support for capitalist globalization and free trade deals such as CETA and the TPP extends Canada’s imperialist agenda, where corporations will gain further power and profits, but working people – women and their families – are denied food security, the ability to form or join a trade union, access to affordable housing, healthcare, education, prescription drugs and more. This government, like the Harper Tories, continues to ignore the longstanding demand to create a universal, accessible, affordable, quality, public childcare system.
Women in Canada are losing ground in terms of pay equity and pensions. The gender gap in Canada is now double the global average; racialized women make only 68 cents for every dollar made by non-racialized men. The Liberal government has no plans to rectify this situation. Recent pension reforms roll-back gains women had achieved by excluding the years taken off on maternity and parental leaves in calculation of their final pensions. These are not “improvements”; this is austerity. Women are being forced to pay the price for the ongoing capitalist economic crisis and for continuing corporate tax cuts and giveaways. It’s no wonder that a recent study on the Global Gender Gap reached the damning conclusion that at the current rate, it will take 170 years for women to reach equality.
Trump’s Muslim ban and his bigoted statements have encouraged racist, fascist, and extreme right-wing groups in Canada to spread their hate propaganda and terrorist activities. The recent terrorist attack in Quebec City, which resulted in the death of six innocent lives during prayer, was aimed against the entire Muslim community in Canada. But the Trudeau government responded only with words, not action. Further, gendered Islamophobic violence occurs all too often in Canada. Muslim women are often verbally attacked and have been physically assaulted by having their hijabs ripped off or worse. As this violence escalates, the government sits idle while the media perpetuates the lie that Western military intervention in the Middle East is required to “save” Muslim women. The Liberals have capped refugee migration and sponsorship to Canada while making war on their North African and Middle Eastern homelands, and exploiting them for photo-ops. This is not feminism.
The truth is, PM Trudeau and the Liberal government cannot claim to be feminist while advocating and defending corporate power and super-profits. Policies and decisions that perpetuate violence against Indigenous women and territories, that deepen and expand gendered and racialized economic inequalities, that impose war and austerity at home and abroad, are all part of the capitalist agenda – an agenda that is incompatible with the demands of working-class women from all communities for peace, equality, democracy and economic and social security for themselves and their families.
Which way forward for women in Canada?
The Women’s March on Washington’s Unity Principles provide a solid basis for building unity across our communities. We are building strong coalitions of women’s groups together – women from groups like Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, Labour Women’s Committees, LGBTQ, disability, student and, pro-choice and other groups. We also need to mobilize to win a progressive, anti-capitalist women’s program in our communities and across our country.
We refuse to wait any longer for equality. We need to organize!
The Communist Party of Canada demands Full Gender Equality NOW:
- Restore funding for women’s equality programs.
- Close the wage gap – legislate full pay and employment equity.
- Guarantee accessible and publicly funded abortion and reproductive rights services in every province and territory.
- Create a universal, accessible, affordable, quality, public childcare system, with Canada-wide standards and union wages for childcare workers.
- Protect women’s right to EI maternity coverage; expand parental benefits to 52 weeks.
- End all forms of violence against women and provide adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses. Repeal Bill C-36!
- No to Islamophobia! End US, Canadian, and NATO intervention in the Middle East, zero tolerance for Islamophobic and gendered violence, and open Canada’s doors to immigrants and refugees. Repeal the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. Repeal Bill C-31 and other unconstitutional and undemocratic security state laws.
- Repeal the Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.
- No to austerity. No to war. People’s needs – not corporate greed!