At International Women’s Day event, Judy Rebick examines feminism in the age of Occupy

Jarrah Hodge, Vancouver Observer

…International Women’s Day (March 8) is a chance to reflect on past gains and refocus on current struggles.

“Women still in Canada make 72 per cent of men’s wages on average,” .. “Women who belong to unions are more likely to have pension plans, they’re more likely to have close to parity in wages, they’re more likely to have advancement opportunities and also have grievance processes available to them if they’re being discriminated against or having difficulties in the workplace.”…

“We really achieved a cultural revolution,” she said. “The change in attitude in one generation has been revolutionary… women stepping did that, women fighting back did that, women joining together did that.”

Rebick noted that from the late 1960s to 1980s, Canadian women won reproductive rights, legal abortion, enshrined equality in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, increased awareness of violence against women, and made advances on pay equity and employment equity.

She noted the role labour unions have had in advancing women’s rights, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who in 1981 went on strike for maternity leave and ended up winning that right for women across Canada.

“We achieved a lot, but we still have a way to go,” Rebick added, singling out particularly the struggle to end trafficking of women and to end a “rape culture” that blames victims for their assaults.

Through the history of the women’s movement, Rebick noted there has been a cycle of advancements and backlashes. But she credits a new generation of young activists such as those involved in the Occupy movement with making sure we haven’t had our rights eroded in the past few years…

“More and more what we’re seeing is that women’s issues are connected to all the other issues,” Rebick …

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