Statement by Jack Layton & Irene Mathyssen on the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In Canada, women and men across the country are recognizing this important milestone as a day to celebrate the significant political, social and economic progress women have made.

However, there is still much work to be done. Women and girls continue to face disproportionate incidences of violence, poverty and violations of their basic human rights around the world.

In Canada, the government has been working to erode much of the progress women have made. Whether it’s funding cuts to Status of Women to ignoring the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force Report, it’s obvious that this government is not serious about addressing the inequality women and girls continue to face in our country. Sadly, Canada is now ranked 16th on the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index-lower than Japan, Spain and Italy.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal women and girls, continue to face appalling violations of their rights. Nearly 40% of Aboriginal women have not completed high school, and funding for education of children on reserves is capped at a rate far lower than the average spent on children’s education elsewhere in Canada. Furthermore, the Conservative government has cut funding to Sisters in Spirit, a task force that compiles and maintains a database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in the country, stipulating that the remaining funding is not to go towards advocacy and research activities – the core of the work they undertake. Sisters in Spirit has been instrumental in highlighting the disproportionate rates of violence and death aboriginal women and girls face in Canada.

New Democrats believe that Canadian women deserve fairness, affordability, equal opportunity, equal pay for work of equal value, a decent standard of living and the freedom to live without fear. We will continue to fight and oppose this government’s agenda to continue attacking women’s rights. We invite all Canadians to join with New Democrats in celebrating this historic 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and to join us in speaking out on the issues that matter to all Canadians.

Jack Layton,
New Democrat Leader

Irene Mathyssen
New Democrat MP, Critic for the Status of Women