Statement from Irene Mathyssen on International Women's Day

Women and men around the world recognize International Women's Day as a time to reflect upon and celebrate women’s social, political and economic achievements, both globally and locally. In this country, much progress has been made since Canadians first marked International Women’s Day in 1977.

It was a pleasure to join women in my home community of London, Ontario this weekend for a number of events celebrating International Women’s Day. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who organized activities at the Masonville Library, the Hamilton Rd. Seniors Centre, and the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre. Thank you to everyone who attended the Friday breakfast in support of the London Abused Women’s Centre. I also want to recognize London’s longest serving Mayor, Anne-Marie DeCicco-Best for initiating the Mayor’s Task Force to End Violence Against Women, and to Police Chief Murray Faulkner for his ongoing efforts in this area. We have a remarkable group of women and men in our community who are doing everything they can to make a better world for our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters.

Sadly, women in Canada are losing ground as the Harper government, undermines the important advancements essential for the security of women by:

• Eliminating the phrase "gender equality" from the mandate of Canada’s primary institution responsible for gender equality in Canada: Status of Women; and while the word equality was re-introduced to the mandate, the spirit of equality has not been re-established;
• Closing twelve of sixteen Status of Women offices;
• Ignoring recommendations made by the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force Report, and placing pay equity negotiations back on the bargaining table;
• Eliminating funding for the court challenges program – a program established to provide assistance to court cases related to equality rights guaranteed under Canada’s Constitution;
• Failing to create and implement a national childcare strategy. $100-a-month in universal child benefits does not alleviate financial strain for impoverished mothers, especially single ones, who must work to support their families;
• Decreasing levels of financial and human resources allocated to gender-equality projects within the Canadian International Development Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs;
• Failing to address violence against women, while actively working to dismantle the federal long gun registry;
• Lacking strategies to address the specific challenges faced by women of colour, aboriginal women, women from the LGBTT communities, and women with mental and physical difficulties;
• Failing to improve women’s pension rights.

New Democrats believe that Canadian women deserve fairness, affordability, 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 for equality.

I invite all Canadians to join with New Democrats in celebrating International Women’s Day and to speak out on the issues that matter to all women. We will never stop in our efforts to ensure the full and equal rights of all women.