Women and Gender Equity
Across the country, more than 145,000 women are members of UFCW Canada, comprising over 52 percent of our union’s membership. Women are the foundation of our union, and have helped transform UFCW into a leading voice for women workers throughout Canada.
Accordingly, UFCW is fully committed to achieving gender equity and ensuring that our union remains inclusive and welcoming to working women.
To advance these principles, the UFCW Canada National Council Women and Gender Equity Committee provides women members with tools that can help them become engaged in their workplace, their union, and their communities. The Committee also advises the National Council on issues of primary concern to women members.
As a strong advocate for women workers, UFCW Canada engages in a number of campaigns aimed at advancing women's rights and ensuring that women of all backgrounds are able to thrive in the workplace. These initiatives include our union's efforts to end Sexual Harrassment and Violence Against Women, close the Gender Wage Gap, and provide Paid Leave for Survivors of Domestic Violence.
To support these campaigns, UFCW Canada publishes a wide array of posters, publications, and resources that seek to raise awareness of issues affecting working women, like cyberbullying, work-life balance, and maternity leave, among others. As well, our Women In Canada Timeline serves as an essential resource for students researching the significant contributions of women to the history, culture, and fabric of Canada.
In addition to this important work, our union regularly participates in events focused on the empowerment of women, such as International Women's Day and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
UFCW Canada also provides comprehensive news coverage of women members' involvement in their union, exploring everything from the work of UFCW sisters helping to bring the union advantage to women workers, to our union's advocacy for universal child care, to the efforts of UFCW activists working to make equal pay a legislative priority for governments.
Engaged and empowered, UFCW Canada women play a vital role in shaping their union and strenghtening their workplace and communities.
What is gender equity?
Gender equity means allocating jobs, resources, wages, programs, and decision-making fairly to both males and females. It requires organizations to ensure that everyone has equal access to a complete range of opportunities so that they can achieve their full potential. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the principles of equity and makes provisions for affirmative action programs in order to eliminate disadvantages for women.
Gender equity necessitates an examination of organizational practices and policies that might discourage women from participating. Examples include:
Looking at hiring and recruitment practices to ensure that women have leadership roles, are involved in decision-making, and are able to serve as role models for other women;
Analyzing resource allocation to determine whether budgets are adequately funding programs, services, and training initiatives that meet women’s needs;
Examining participation rates to identify potential barriers for women and determine whether corrective action needs to be taken;
Evaluating programs to ascertain the types of opportunities that are being offered to males and females and see whether inequities exist;
Assessing promotional materials to ensure that women are not being excluded from awareness-raising initiatives or stereotyped in pictures or language.
Equity-focused initiatives that target specific groups are important because they consider the years of socialization and historical traditions that have created social inequities and marginalized women, minorities, members of the LGBTQ2ISA community, and other equity-seeking groups.
What is the difference between gender equity and gender equality?
Gender equality tends to focus on ensuring that men and women have the “same” opportunity to access jobs, programs, and decision-making, but often ignores the fact that people differ in their capacities, interests, and experiences in obtaining those resources.
Whereas gender equality is concerned with equality of opportunity (i.e. a man and a woman being interviewed for the same job), gender equity seeks equal outcomes (i.e. a corporate board with as many female executives as male).
What are the benefits of gender equity?
Workplaces that strive towards achieving gender equity actively encourage and properly train women to fully participate in the organization’s activities, leadership roles, and decision-making processes. By attracting more women, these workplaces are able to expand and diversify their talent pool. Empowering women also brings a wider range of viewpoints and experiences to the table, enabling organizations to better reflect and engage the populations that they serve.
What is UFCW Canada doing to advance gender equity?
Through the work of our Women and Gender Equity Committee, UFCW Canada develops tools and training to encourage the involvement of women in organizing, supports efforts for promoting women into leadership positions, and creates awareness of the social and economic inequality of women, among many other initiatives.
At the leadership level, the UFCW Canada National Executive Board recently achieved gender equity – with equal representation of male and female activists - after a resolution was passed at the 12th National Convention requiring our union to expand the representation of women members on the National Council. This achievement marks a significant breakthrough for our union and will help UFCW Canada better represent and reflect the tens of thousands of women workers who call UFCW their union.
Across the country, UFCW Canada Local Unions negotiate collective agreements that close the gender wage gap between male and female employees and contain provisions aimed at preventing sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. As well, more and more UFCW contracts are providing paid leave for survivors of domestic violence. And our union constantly campaigns for meaningful action on these issues at the government level.
What can I do to advance gender equity?
There are several ways that Canadians can help advance gender equity in the workplace and in our communities.
Membership in a union is particularly helpful for closing the gender wage gap between men and women. On average, women union members earn $6.65 per hour more than women without union representation. Apart from increasing wages for women, union protection also leads to better access to full-time hours and more stable scheduling, providing greater work-life balance for women workers and their families. Gain the union advantage today by joining the union.
Tell your local member of parliament (MP) or member of provincial parliament (MPP or MLA) that ending Sexual Harassment and Violence Against Women, closing the Gender Wage Gap, and providing Paid Leave for Survivors of Domestic Violence are important to you. At the national level, be sure to tell your MP that Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women deserve justice. Visit UFCW Canada’s Action Centre to make your voice heard on these issues.