PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday issued the following statement on International Women’s Day:
“Each and every day, women and girls help shape Canada into a fairer and stronger country. As we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate and recognize the achievements of women and girls in Canada and reaffirm our commitment to removing systemic barriers to advance gender equality in Canada and around the world.
“This year’s theme, Every Woman Counts, is a reminder that all women, from all ages and walks of life, have a place in every aspect of Canadian society. With a disturbing recent rise in anti-transgender hate here in Canada, we reiterate today that trans women are women and we will always stand up to hate whenever and wherever it occurs.
“When we invest in empowering women and girls, we help entire families, communities, and societies succeed. That is why increasing women’s participation in the work force and closing the gender wage gap has long been a key priority for the Government of Canada, and why supporting and empowering women and girls will continue to be at the heart of the decisions we make.
“Last year, labour force participation for working-age women in Canada reached a record-high 85 per cent. This was bolstered by our Canada-wide early learning and child care system, which is already delivering $10-a-day child care in nearly half of Canadian provinces and territories and has reduced fees by at least 50 per cent in all other jurisdictions, with work on track to reach $10-a-day across the country in just three years. In addition, we launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which has provided funding to address systemic barriers to women’s equality and advance their full and equal participation in the economy through greater access to financing, mentorship, and training. By enabling more women, especially mothers, to participate in the workforce, and by advocating for gender parity at the management level through programs like the 50 – 30 Challenge, we build better futures for everyone.
“Internationally, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy continues to guide our efforts to advance gender equality around the world. In 2021-22, Canada allocated 99 per cent of its bilateral international development assistance toward initiatives that either targeted or integrated gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. This included funding to tackle gender-based discrimination and to provide access to sexual and reproductive health services to ensure women and girls can exercise their right to make decisions about their own bodies. It also included funding to help more women start a business or secure decent work. Canada is committed to supporting the efforts of women leaders and feminist groups that work tirelessly and bravely to promote peace and protect the rights of women and vulnerable groups, including through the Women’s Voice and Leadership program and the co-creation of the Alliance for Feminist Movements. Working with our international partners, we will continue to make gender equality a priority, for the benefit of women, girls, and all people around the world.
“On this International Women’s Day, I invite all Canadians to amplify the voices of women and girls, celebrate their enormous contributions in every aspect of Canadian society, and stand up for a more equal and equitable world.”
PREMIER David Eby and Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, said in a statement:
“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate all the women, girls, Two-Spirit and non-binary individuals in British Columbia. We recognize women are so often the cornerstone of our communities – and our economy.
“We have a long history of incredible women who have worked hard to make our society better and more welcoming for everyone. We also know that more work is needed to ensure everyone is treated equally in our province, regardless of gender.
“For this reason, we are very proud that yesterday our government introduced new pay transparency legislation for first reading in the legislature. This bill recognizes that many women are still paid less than men to do the same job. Pay transparency will help shine a light on B.C.’s gender pay gap and help move us closer to equal pay for equal work.
“We are grateful to the many people from the private and public sector, labour unions, non-profits, advocacy groups and Indigenous communities who shared their views on how we can best tackle the gender pay gap in British Columbia.
“The last few years have been challenging for everyone, but they have been especially hard for women. Women were disproportionately affected by the economic challenges of the pandemic and many also faced increases in gender-based violence during the crisis – a serious issue that persists.
“Our government has stepped up to help, and we’re going to continue to do so.
“We’ve introduced the BC Affordability Credit, which has helped 85% of British Columbians. Many families will also benefit from three enhanced BC Family Benefit payments this year, and in July 2023, the BC Family Benefit will be permanently increasing by 10%. On top of that, single parents will get as much as an extra $500 a year.
“We continue to expand access to affordable child care, which has allowed more women to join the workforce. Three-quarters of last year’s job growth in B.C. was driven by women’s employment. This reflects our government’s work to expand access to affordable and accessible child care. However, women are still all too often left out of high-paying, in-demand jobs. That’s why we’re improving training initiatives to close the skills gap.
“We are also delivering on our commitment to make prescription contraception free for all B.C. residents beginning April 1 – a first in Canada – because no one should face barriers to their own sexual and reproductive health.
“We can’t have true gender equity until everyone is free from violence. Work is underway to develop an action plan to address gender-based violence in British Columbia. At the same time, this is an urgent issue that demands action now.
“That’s why we’ve taken steps such as providing funding for community-based sexual assault response services, investing in safe housing and committing stable funding for more than 400 victim services and gender-based violence programs throughout the province. Our government is also moving forward with legislation to address the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, which is a form of malicious and exploitative sexualized violence.
“These past few years have reinforced that we are all in this together. It’s our shared responsibility to end all forms of discrimination and violence and build a better future for women, girls and Two-Spirit and non-binary people in British Columbia.”
FEDERAL NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said:
“International Women’s Day celebrates the amazing contributions of women, girls, trans women, two-spirit and non-binary people in building a better, fairer, more equitable and just society.
On this day we also reassert our commitment to tear down the barriers and systemic discrimination these women and non-binary people still face in 2023. This includes ensuring reproductive rights are protected. We cannot rest until all barriers are lifted—for good.
Our work for gender equity and a safer society should not end until every person, no matter their gender identity and gender expression, is free of violence and harassment on the streets, in the workplace, online, and in their own homes. This includes fighting against the poisonous spread of misogyny and transphobia.
We must also do more to ensure survivors of gender-based violence receive all the help and resources they need to rebuild their lives and thrive.
Additionally, we must put an end to the ongoing genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people are waiting for justice and we must take action. We will not rest until all 231 Calls for Justice identified by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are implemented.
Decades of marching, resisting and persisting for justice, equal rights and empowerment cannot be forgotten. They must be carved in our memory and drive us to continue to lift up women, girls, trans women, two-spirit and non-binary people in our communities.
New Democrats will always stand by you in the fight for equity.”
BC Liberal Critic for Gender Equity and Inclusion Renee Merrifield said:
“Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate all women across British Columbia. I’m grateful for the resilient, strong, and caring women who continue to shape our province. The bold impact of women on the world is increasing, and today is a reminder that we must keep going.
“The Tallest Poppy 2023 study, which examines the rates and impact of the belittlement of working women due to their achievements or success, showed that 77% of respondents felt they must downplay their achievements in order to avoid being cut down in the workplace. These high numbers of women who feel they cannot show their success for fear of being penalized is troubling. Such conditions have left women holding fewer executive positions, experiencing lower self-esteem, impacting their desire to apply for promotions, and feeding the cycle of gender stereotypes and biases.
“Everyone deserves the same rights, respect, and dignity no matter their sexual identity. We have seen major progress for women in the workforce, but further measures to improve equality are needed. We reaffirm our commitment to advancing the success of all B.C. women and recognize all of the smart, fierce, creative, and dynamic women that serve in the B.C. Legislature.
“On behalf of Kevin Falcon and the BC Liberal Official Opposition Caucus, I wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day and encourage all to reflect on how we can work together to achieve gender equity.”