Statement for International Women’s Day 2024

illustration of six different women on a purple background


As the union dedicated to advancing equity in every workplace, we can be proud of the considerable importance that Unifor places on bargaining equity gains, investments made in advancing women’s representation at every level of our union, and supports the union provides for women to take leadership roles in their workplaces, in politics, and within their communities.

The United Nations theme for IWD 2024 is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress” – a call to corporations and governments around the world to address alarming gender inequalities that remain one of the greatest human rights challenges.

Recently, Unifor joined the calls to the Federal Government to end Employment Insurance (EI) gender discrimination for those accessing maternity and parental benefits. Unifor and allies called for the government to eliminate the 50-week limit on combined special benefits and unemployment benefits and extend the reference and benefit period to at least 104 weeks.

This is a simple fix that would end the discrimination against parents – overwhelmingly women – who are being penalized if they suffer job loss within a year of taking their parental leave by having their EI maternity or parental benefits not contribute towards their qualifying weeks.

The list of projects, programs, education and supports in the workplace that the union drives is growing but we still have more to achieve.

Lana Payne with a large group of women.


Women are drastically under-represented in the Skilled Trades, making up only 5% of those working in the trades, according to Statistics Canada. Unifor works to increase participation in these good-paying jobs through partnerships like the one announced this past January alongside Sheridan, Durham, Fanshawe and St. Clair Colleges in Ontario.

With Unifor’s $300,000 grant to the Women in Red Seal Trades – Advancing the Ecosystem program, support from the Unifor Skilled Trades Council, and $2 million from Employment and Social

Development Canada, the colleges will establish a Women in Trades Network, provide career education and work to increase organizational ability to retain certified women in Skilled Trades.

Canada needs a strong Skilled Trades workforce, and there are millions of capable workers denied these positions, not due to technical abilities, but because of outdated structures and biases.

Investing in women also means an investment of time in political and community advocacy. Women’s voices must be heard at every level as we push for change to these outdated and biased systems and break down barriers for women who also identify as non-binary, and transgender workers, workers of colour, and workers with a disability. When all women are included, we all rise.

Two women standing together, both wearing poppies on their collars.

Unifor takes concrete steps to ensure this inclusion within ourown structures, from Education programs to help women prepare to participate in collective bargaining, to establishing the National President’s Gender Equity Advisory Group in the auto sector and  creating equity positions on the National Executive Board to ensure all policies and plans are developed and evaluated through an equity lens.

Equal opportunities for equity-seeking workers is a good thing for everyone. When women are fully participating in our union, we are all better for it.

Different perspectives are always needed to solve problems and we need all hands on deck as we face the big challenges of climate change, an affordability crisis, dramatic shifts in the political landscape, and emerging technologies that will change many aspects of our daily lives.

This IWD, we ask all members to reflect on what they are doing in the workplace to advance equity and to invest in women.

  • Does your Local have a Women’s Committee? Does your workplace have a Women’s Advocate?
  • Are there women on your Local Executive and bargaining committee?
  • Does your Local work to ensure equity-seeking members are offered opportunities to attend union education and union councils?

To learn more about how to advance opportunities for women in your workplace, sign up for the Unifor Women’s Department monthly update or connect with the department by email at

We invite you to hang IWD posters in your workplaces and union halls to mark March 8 and participate in IWD events in your region – or start your own!

Send photos of your events and of members proudly displaying IWD posters and from your events so we can share with Unifor members across the country.

Our collective support for feminist changemakers in our union and community will make a world of difference.