International Women's Day 100th Anniversary March Braves Winter Storm
March 8, 2008
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Despite frigid temperatures and a winter storm that dumped 30 cm of snow on the city, hundreds of women, including CAW activists marched through the snow-clogged streets of downtown Toronto to mark the 100th anniversary of the International Women's Day. Carol Phillips, assistant to CAW national president Buzz Hargrove said the march should send a message to Prime Minister Harper.
Assistant to the CAW President
"Here we are at the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day and we have to fight the Harper government for very basic rights. We're seeing an erosion of rights happening. The first action this government took was to cut childcare and since then they have cut funding to groups that are advocating for the rights of women. We've got to fight these fights all over again."
Phillips added that Harper should not underestimate the power of the women's movement.
Assistant to the CAW President
"If you take a look at the number of women who are here today in the middle of a snowstorm, you know women are prepared to fight these fights. They are prepared to fight them for themselves. They are prepared to fight them for their daughters, their grand daughters and we're going to make change. We're going to take on the Harper government in the next election and we're going to make him understand that he can not cut rights for women like he is doing."
At a rally prior to the march the women heard numerous speakers dealing with a broad range of women's issues including Judy Vashti Persad of Women Working with Immigrant Women.
Judy Vashti Persad
Women Working With Immigrant Women
"Today we rally and march to demand our right to equal pay for work of equal value. We demand our right to unionize. We demand an end to violence against women and children. We demand an end to wars. The women's movement has a powerful history of fighting for a just and equitable society. The Rising of the Women is a rising of us all."
"On March 8, 1908, 15,000 women marched through the streets of Manhattan demanding their rights. We were garment workers, and many of us were first generation immigrants, many of us Jewish. "
Despite the successes since 1908 the fight for women's rights and social justice is continuing. Jenny Ahn, CAW national representative, said the fight is far from over.
CAW National Rep.
"As of 2005 the number of women working in full time jobs only earned 70 and a half cents compared to their male counterparts. Now that's a shame. We know that this is not acceptable. And of course this is why we are demanding that we get equal pay for work of equal value."
Sherry Hillman, Financial Secretary for CAW Local 112 is proud of the progress women have made but is determined to continue the fight for equality.
Financial Secretary CAW Local 112
"Although we have made a lot of progress and achieved a lot over those years, from being recognized legally as a person, to the right to vote, to control over our bodies, we've still got a long way to go. Women today still only make 70% of what men do, so economic equality is still high on our priority list along with a decent national childcare program for women and many other issues."
The International Women's Day March brought cheers from the people of Toronto who, like the women marchers, had braved the winter storm.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."