International Women's Day 2014
For more than a hundred years, women around the world have marked March 8th as a day to reflect, remember, regroup and renew their struggle for economic and social equality in their communities and their workplaces. It has been a struggle marked by great gains, enormous bonds of solidarity, as well as the courage to press ahead despite considerable opposition. It’s also been a struggle anchored to the understanding that the gains made provide the platform to secure true equality in the future.
From its early beginnings with groups like the Women’s Trade Union League, the women’s movement has always shown tremendous conviction. The decades-long fight for voting rights in the United States and Canada are just a few examples of that conviction. Similar struggles have been part of the fight for workplace equality and pay equity legislation.
Women in post-secondary education have been part of that struggle and have found ways to ensure that equality has real meaning in our sector. However, recent events at post-secondary institutions like the University of Ottawa and the University of British Columbia, where students were involved in hostile and offensive acts targeted at female students show that despite the gains made over decades of struggle by women in post-secondary education, there is still much more that needs to be done. Both public institutions have been called to take immediate steps to address what some have characterized as a “rape culture” among elements at these institutions. FPSE joins with those who are demanding not only greater accountability from those institutions, but also greater efforts by administrators at those institutions to bring about needed reforms.
The struggle that women face on our campuses, whether as students or as faculty, highlights the importance of solidarity within our ranks and across our communities. Whether at the bargaining table or in our classrooms, women activists within our union have championed demands for change over the last thirty years. Through their activism we have been able to improve conditions for our members in areas like employment security and greater wage equality. That activism must now expand to ensure that the learning culture at our institutions not only respects, but also protects the rights and aspirations of women to learn, work and live in a respectful environment where equality is not only talked about, it is practiced every day in every way.
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.