Ottawa – Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, issued the following statement:
“Today we mark the start of Gender Equality Week, a time to raise awareness of the significant contributions women and gender diverse communities have made to Canada; to celebrate notable achievements and advancements; and to reconfirm our commitment to address inequality. I remain deeply grateful to Sven Spengemann, Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Lakeshore, for his leadership in introducing the legislation that enshrined Gender Equality Week in Canadian law.
It has been 50 years since the landmark Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Because of that report – and all those who worked tirelessly to make its recommendations a reality – women in Canada have greater financial autonomy and equality, access post-secondary education at equal rates as men, and are better represented in our political systems. But there is much more to do. This week we reaffirm our commitment to addressing the unacceptable disparities that still exist including the gender wage gap, the devaluation of care work and other women-led fields, and the many other systemic barriers that women still face. We will continue our work to address and prevent gender-based violence in all its forms, including and especially the disproportionate violence faced by Indigenous women and girls.
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified systemic issues and longstanding inequalities and has disproportionately impacted Canada’s most vulnerable, including women and gender-diverse communities. We saw these impacts clearly demonstrated in the rise of a shadow pandemic of gender-based violence and acted swiftly to provide over $50 million to organizations serving those impacted by GBV, ensuring they could continue their critical work at a challenging time. Through investments in childcare and the safe return of students to schools, the Government is helping to ensure parents, in particular mothers, are able to return to work. And additional investments in housing, healthcare and food security are supporting those who need it most as we continue to navigate this difficult period.
The impacts we have experienced from COVID-19 put at risk hard won gains towards gender equality, but we will not allow progress to stall. We owe it to all those who came before and who fought hard to advance gender equality to maintain and build on their legacy. As Canada continues to manage the pandemic and recovery, our government will apply an intersectional feminist lens to ensure that we rebuild our economy in way that’s inclusive and fair. Key to this will be maintaining our historic support for women’s and equality-seeking organizations, which increased five-fold between 2015 and 2020.
This year’s theme, #BecauseOfYou, is inspired by those here in Canada and around the world who work to advance gender equality in their communities. During this year’s Gender Equality Week, we celebrate the contributions of trailblazers, activists and advocates who are finding powerful ways to advance gender equality in civil society, boardrooms, classrooms and communities across the country.
There is a role for all Canadians in building a culture of inclusion and respect where women, girls and people of all gender identities and expressions are valued and have equal opportunities. Let us unite with renewed determination to ensure that everyone in Canada has an opportunity to reach their full potential because when people prosper – regardless of gender identity – we all benefit.”