March 8, 2022 marks two years of a pandemic and economic crisis that has seen women losing ground in the struggle for social equality. Women in Canada have lost jobs at a higher rate than men, have lost hours of work, have lost wages and wage increases and have lost future pension income because of those reduced incomes. They have lost their childcare providers and the schools for their children and have often been required to bear these responsibilities in addition to their work – if they still have work.
Many have been frontline workers in the healthcare system, the service delivery system and in the stores and businesses deemed essential for the rest of us. In return, they have been commended for their bravery and heroism, but with little being offered to make that praise anything but empty slogans.
When the pandemic led to increased work from home, women were expected to turn their houses into workplaces – increasing costs like utilities and infrastructure without increased compensation from employers. During this isolation, many women and children experienced increased exposure to violence or abuse from their partners or parents with sharply reduced access to support from friends, family and services.
Indigenous women have struggled with the intensified effects of intergenerational trauma from Canada’s colonialist and genocidal policies, through the ongoing discoveries of mass unmarked graves of Indigenous children at sites of former “residential schools.”
Women have shouldered much of the burden of the pandemic in a situation that is already profoundly unequal. Women are already underpaid in the workplace, they already work in the lowest paying job categories, and they already comprise most of the part-time work force where they often work without union protection, without paid sick leave, without family responsibility leave and without affordable childcare. Bonuses for grocery store clerks were cancelled after just a few months. Health care systems and those who work within them continue to be underfunded after years of debilitating cuts which have robbed the system of the capacity to deal with the pandemic.
In Canada, women have faced the pandemic and an economic crisis which the pandemic deepened and intensified. In other parts of the world, women have faced the lack of available vaccines to stem the tide of the pandemic. They have faced lack of access to medical care. They have faced right-wing governments who abandoned their responsibility for people’s health by denying the pandemic itself and rejecting vaccines as part of the solution. Women have struggled to put food on the table and roofs over their children’s heads. They have struggled with the pandemic as bombs fell on them and their families or as drones terrorized from above.
Women in those parts of the world striving to break the stranglehold of US imperialism have faced the fury of the frustrated bully: Cuba struggles under increased sanctions and the national treasuries of Afghanistan and Venezuela are stolen by the US, the richest country in the world.
Women around the world live with the increasing threat of war as the US and its allies in NATO and the EU continue to target any economy not in thrall to Western imperialism. The US charges that China, Russia, Iran and others are threatening a “rules-based order,” but the only rule that has been threatened is the rule of US corporations over the economies of other countries.
Women around the world have faced increased environmental degradation and the effects of climate change, losing their food sources to drought, their homes to hurricanes and tornadoes and their lives in floods and fires.
Yet while women and workers around the world have suffered, the rich have become immensely richer. During the pandemic when working women and men were losing their jobs and the healthcare system was in crisis, the wealth of all US billionaires grew by $1.3 trillion. Last year in Canada, $2.9 billion was raked in by just 15 corporate executives who sold off company shares in a buoyant stock market.
It is clear that the system isn’t working. The proof is on display for everyone to see: unconscionable wealth inequity; homelessness and a widening housing crisis; racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia; police violence; militarism, imperialist aggression and war; healthcare systems on the verge of collapse; food systems destroyed by monoculture and the pressures of multinational seed companies and pesticide producers; and the climate crisis and environmental destruction caused by corporations who place profits above everything – even the world itself.
Throughout the pandemic and the concurrent economic crisis, women and workers have fought back. They have organized and demanded better wages and paid sick days. They have defended the right to healthcare called for it be funded appropriately. They have demonstrated in defense of a better world for themselves and future generations.
In 2022, women in Canada and around the world will continue to struggle for a better wage, for a union, for paid sick days, for expanded public healthcare that includes full universal access to abortion and reproductive health, for housing for all, and for EI reform that delivers improved benefits for all unemployed workers. The Communist Party will continue to support their struggles.
Women continue to face a gender pay gap, receiving an average hourly wage that is just 89 percent of men’s and an average annual income that is just 71 percent. These figures are even worse for Indigenous women, immigrant women, racialized women and trans women. The gender pay gap adds up to $148 billion in lost wages for women every year. Women will continue to fight for full pay and employment equity, linking the demand to end gender-based discrimination with the demand to end all forms of discrimination. The Communist Party will continue to support their struggles.
Women in 2022 still need quality public childcare. In many parts of Canada, the possibility of a private option is welcomed by governments who see it as an opportunity to give money to their business buddies. These same governments used increased long-term care funding as an opportunity to give money to private corporations whose operations were exposed during the pandemic as inadequate and profit-driven at the expense of patient care. We say NO to the patchwork of negotiated childcare systems that do not deliver what is needed but offer instead a hodgepodge of private and public options. Women will continue to unite and fight for universal, public childcare that is free of charge, accessible and socially provided to all who need it. The Communist Party will continue to support their struggle.
In 2022, Indigenous women will continue to struggle against ongoing colonialist and genocidal policies. They will continue to defend their land. They will continue to struggle against violence and the murders and disappearance of their mothers, sisters and daughters. They will continue to struggle for their children’s protection against the continuation of “the scoop” being imposed by child welfare systems. The Communist Party will continue to support their struggles.
Women will continue to work for an end to gender-based violence which has increased during the pandemic. They will continue to demand increased and adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses for women including dedicated services for trans and non-binary folk. The Communist Party will continue to support their struggles.
Women in Canada will continue to struggle for peace, opposing Canada’s participation in foreign military excursions unrelated to the defense of Canada. Women in Canada stand in solidarity with the women of Cuba, Palestine, Venezuela and all countries subject to military incursions, sanctions and blockades. The Communist Party will continue to support all efforts to unite the forces for peace.
Women in Canada in 2022 will continue to fight back, to take back what has been taken from them and to win what they need and what they deserve. The Communist Party will continue to support and to be a part of their fight.
That is how the Communist Party of Canada pays tribute to those who have struggled and continue to struggle for full equality for women. On International Women’s Day 2022, the Communist Party commits itself once more to that struggle for the rights of working women in Canada and around the world.
Communist Party of Canada
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