Hosting the Annual International Women's Day Breakfast on Parliament Hill

Today it was my pleasure to host the NDP's annual International Women's Day Breakfast on Parliament Hill. The women and men attending the celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day were treated to amazing and inspiring speeches from Cindy Blackstock, the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society; Jody Williams, the Nobel Laureate and co-founder of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Erin Williams, Executive Director, Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women.

Cindy talked about the racism and unfairness that First Nations children and families face on a daily basis. The education of First Nations children is funded at a lesser rate than non-native children in Canada. Their schools are inadequate, the resources limited; and the end result is that First Nations children struggle to manage in a world that demands educational excellence and a high level of skill from those who wish to be successful and contribute to community.

Jody talked about the determination of women to pursue human rights. Along with sister Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Jody Williams took the lead in establishing the “Nobel Women’s Initiative. Launched in January 2006, its mission is to use the prestige and access afforded by the Nobel Prize to spotlight and promote efforts of women’s rights activists, researchers and organizations working to advance peace, justice and equality for women. By helping to advance the cause of women, the Nobel Women’s Initiative advances all of humanity.

Erin Williams spoke of the challenges faced by women of every generation. She spoke of the scourge faced by women who were victimized by violence; but also celebrated the creativity and resilience of women who know that there can be an end to violence and abuse and know that is what they want for their children and grandchildren. Erin ended with a song that reminded us of the advances women have made, the setbacks we are currently experiencing and the battles still to be fought and won.

We cried, we laughed, we sang and we rejoiced in being strong, capable women who will never give up the fight for equality for our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, ourselves.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Irene Mathyssen MP, London Fanshawe
NDP Critic for the Status of Women