5 ways AUPE's Women’s Committee has your back
How do AUPE members make time for family, work, activism, and self-care?
Like most things—it’s a balancing act.
For the past 34 years, AUPE’s Women’s Committee has shown the union is, on balance, more than a labour organization—it’s a social body that creates a sense of community, family and solidarity.
This International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting the victories—and the challenges—we’ve faced as workers and women.
The committee has channeled the struggles of women in the labour movement into opportunities for change, such as resolutions at convention, fundraising for charity, educational opportunities like conferences, and petitions calling for government action.
We do this work because when we fight for our rights, we also fight for the rights for future generations of women.
Here are five examples of how your Women’s Committee is fighting for you:
- Pay and Social Equity
Did you know Alberta is the only province in Canada that has no pay equity legislation?
Alberta has the largest gender income gap in the country – 41 per cent compared to the national average of 33 per cent. With any legislation, AUPE attempts to achieve pay equity during negotiations on behalf of members.
Right from the start, when the Women’s Committee held its first meeting in April 1990, they focused efforts on addressing pay equity by educating members about pay equity, addressing it in negotiations and working to fortify it in legislation. They continue to work alongside AUPE’s Pay and Social Equity Committee to fight for social justice.
- Educational Opportunities
The Prairie School for Union Women is an intensive four days of learning and sharing for trade union women. Members who attend develop leadership and personal skills while building solidarity with fellow attendees.
Every year, the Women’s Committee accepts applications for the Prairie School and selects which enthusiastic members attend on behalf of AUPE. This year, the Prairie School is in Saskatoon, SK from June 12-15, 2023.
- Celebrating Women’s Stories
The Day of Validation and Equality award, or DOVE award, is just one way we celebrate the women who have made progress on behalf of AUPE members.
The award is a symbol of the progress we have made and recognizes the courageous acts AUPE members take to create better workplaces and communities.
DOVE award recipients are announced annually, following International Women’s Day.
- Research and Policy Development
After the Women’s Committee’s first meeting in April 1990, they moved quickly to present the first policy paper on childcare in November of that same year.
Other examples of policy development include:
- Investigating barriers to women participating in the union
- Preventing violence against women
- Policy on sexual harassment
- Giving Back to the Community
Hosting community events like Grandparents Day, where members advocate for government action to support seniors—like minimum standards of care—is an important part of the labour movement.
The Women’s Committee is proud to fundraise for causes like breast cancer research, cut their hair for ALS, and even develop a cookbook “Labour in the Kitchen” to support Alberta’s women shelters.
These are just a few ways AUPE members and the Women’s Committee are making a difference for working women in Alberta.
International Women’s Day is March 8. This year, remember that organizing and activism is not just for today, it’s for future generations.