Today we mark International Women’s Day, March 8.
Many people choose to mark this day as one of celebration of the progress women have achieved towards equality. We should all take a moment to reconfirm our solidarity – and our union’s solidarity – towards the struggle for true equality for women.
International women’s day was formed out of the struggle, resistance and action of working women around the world, born out of the strikes of women trade unionists in the garment district of New York, and the socialist uprisings of women in Europe.
We know that one of the core issues we must fight to address today is the lack of women’s access to economic power and economic equality. Women still only earn 70cents to the dollar to men – and it will be 170 years to affect the gender pay gap at the current rate.
Women still only retire with half the superannuation of men and 1 in 3 women retire with no super at all.
And in Australia today, although women account for only 35% of full time employment, in January 80% of full time jobs lost were women’s.
We know that addressing women’s economic inequality would not only lift women out poverty and lead to a more equal society, it also helps to address our appalling rates of domestic violence – giving women the economic power and security to be able to leave violent relationships.
That’s why our domestic violence leave clause campaign is so important, and why out union is prioritising this struggle.
Australian women – particularly of the trade union movement – have always been at the forefront of women’s struggle for equality, and I’m personally pleased that a week after International Women’s Day we will see the first female head of the ACTU officially elected.
In our union, we are constantly working to both improve the lives of women and work, but also improve women’s role in our own organisation. We are not perfect, but continue to struggle, and I pay tribute to the many sisters past and present who have led the way for our women leaders of tomorrow.
I encourage all Officials to attend IWD marches being organised around the country, and to continue to put action into our stated commitments.
Yours in solidarity,