Statement by Minister Monsef on occasion of Women’s History Month

From: Women and Gender Equality Canada

Ottawa, Ontario – The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, today issued the following statement:

“Today marks the start of Women’s History Month in Canada, a time to celebrate women and girls, past and present, who have helped build a better, more inclusive Canada and celebrate progress towards gender equality.

Women’s contributions have made Canada a more equal, inclusive, and just society in countless ways. Throughout this month we encourage Canadians to join us in using #BecauseOfYou to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of the women who make Canada the country it is today.

As we honour changemakers past and present we also recommit to our continued work to advance gender equality. We can celebrate the progress towards more equal representation of women in politics, in business, and across a wide range of leadership positions, but also know that there is much more to do. We acknowledge movement towards addressing the gender wage gap, which has shrunk by two cents since 2015, but will not be satisfied until it is eliminated completely. And we can all be proud of our renewed and strengthened women’s movement – supported by historic federal investments that are now five times higher per year than prior to 2015 – but also understand the need to maintain that support and continue to grow the movement for the betterment of all Canadians. While we celebrate important milestones, we must also acknowledge that not everyone has been included equally in that progress and that women of colour, Indigenous women, those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ2 community have too often been left out, and we resolve to do better.

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified existing gender inequalities. Women are on the frontlines of this crisis at work, in their communities, and are shouldering the increased burden of unpaid care work at home. They are more likely to hold part-time jobs or to have been precariously employed and the pandemic has magnified these struggles. We have seen reports of increasing rates of gender-based violence, and particularly intimate partner violence, across the country. Women’s safety must be the foundation on which all progress is built. As stated in the Speech from the Throne, the Government will accelerate investments in shelters and transition housing, and continue to advance with a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.

COVID-19 risks rolling back years of hard won progress in advancing women’s rights but as we build back better from the pandemic we will continue to put women at the centre. We will create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to ensure we apply a well-informed, intersectional feminist lens to our response. We will make smart investments that will advance equality now and in the long term, including through significant, long-term, sustained investment in a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system, building on the 40,000 new childcare spaces we have created to date. And, in collaboration with provinces and territories, we will move forward with the creation of the country’s first national action plan to address and prevent gender-based violence, one of the most pervasive barriers to gender equality.

This is a challenging time for all Canadians, but also an opportunity to address inequalities and build a stronger, more inclusive future for generations to come. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and reflect on how far we have come, let us also focus on building on those accomplishments and the role we each have to play in creating a stronger, more equal Canada.”

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