Statement in Parliament on the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today women and men around the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. We recognize the efforts of women and girls in challenging stereotypes and breaking down barriers to their full equality.

However, as far as we believe we have come, there is still much work to be done. Globally, women and girls continue to face violations of their basic human rights. In many nations, women and girls face unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality because they cannot gain access to safe and legal abortions and often lack access to information on family planning.

In too many parts of the world girls are prevented from going to school. As we well know, women and girls are the backbone of societies and helping them to obtain an education is key to improving the social and economic conditions in their communities.

Although Canada's current government may claim that girls' rights matter, its systematic cuts to Canada's international development programs and partners threaten the progress of the world's most vulnerable women and girls. Cuts to honourable organizations such as KAIROS, Match International and the Canadian Teachers' Federation dishonours women in every part of the world. These organizations were doing important work on gender equality issues in developing nations, at least until the government decided that their programming no longer fit the Conservative vision of gender equality.

Not only has the Conservative government cut funding, but it has also deliberately dampened the gravity of languages by Canada internationally to describe the horrific impunity that exists for crimes of sexual violence in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At home in Canada things are not much better. The government continues to systematically attack women's equality rights, whether it is cuts to the operating budget of Status of Women, the funding of organizations like Sisters in Spirit and groups that help newcomers, neglecting lost Canadians, failing to make investments in child care and affordable housing, ignoring pay equity rights, failing to fully address violence against aboriginal women and girls, and the list goes on. It is blatantly obvious that the government does not care about the inequality women still face in Canada.

New Democrats will continue to fight for equality and confront the government's agenda, because it erodes the rights of women and girls. We invite all Canadians to join with us in celebrating International Women's Day and to speak out on the issues that matter to all women.