OPINION: Reaffirming our commitment as MLAs to fight sexism and gender-based discrimination every day


NDP MLA for Richmond Queensborough

EARLIER this week, we celebrated International Women’s Day; a day to recognize and honour the achievements of all women as we strive to remove the systemic barriers placed in front of them. To be clear, this absolutely includes trans women – who many still seek to exclude, refusing to acknowledge their gender identity.  

In the Legislature on Monday, I spoke in support of a motion reaffirming our commitment as MLAs to fight sexism and gender-based discrimination every day. 

How do we fight sexism, misogyny, and the patriarchy? We start by listening to all women. To challenge white supremacy and racism, we listen to Indigenous voices and the voices of Black people and people of colour. To challenge homophobia and transphobia, we listen to 2SLGBTQ+ voices. We listen and learn from the experiences of those who are directly affected, and then we act to dismantle those barriers. 

Over the last year, the pandemic has not treated us all equally. Women have had more than their fair share of economic and social challenges. Women have accounted for more job losses and have taken on more unpaid labour caring for children, elders, and family members.  

That’s why our provincial government is focusing on removing systemic barriers and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing women.  

We’re making historic investments in child care, by creating more licensed spaces and making it more affordable. This will allow more women to go back to work or school, and plan for a brighter future. 

We’re giving extra support to women through employment and skills training so that they can benefit from good-paying jobs in high-demand fields. Currently, over 60% of those who earn minimum wage are women. In June, we are increasing B.C.’s minimum wage to over $15 an hour and raising the liquor server rate to be in line with the general minimum wage. 

We’re also investing in housing and support for women and children, so they can rebuild their lives after leaving violence. The pandemic has led to an increase in gender-based violence, in part because people are spending more time isolated at home and may be cut off from support and resources. Even before the pandemic, the rate of gender-based violence was unacceptably high for women and girls in B.C., especially for Indigenous and trans women.  

Our government is building 1,500 new transition homes for women leaving violence, including new housing options in remote and First Nations communities. We’ve provided $10 million to the Ending Violence Association of B.C. to support emergency sexual assault services. To keep students safe and informed on consent, we’ve launched a provincewide campaign to prevent sexualized violence on college and university campuses. And last year, we introduced paid leave for people facing domestic or sexual violence.  

This week, and every week, I reaffirm my commitment as an ally to all women by challenging sexism and inequality and working to end gender-based discrimination and violence. I encourage everyone, especially men to join me in listening to women, and taking action on building a more equitable province for everyone.