Forty years ago, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women and their achievements, reflect on the progress towards equality, and promote an Ontario and world where there is true gender equality.
While we join the world in observing this day and honouring our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, allies and friends, we know that we still have work to do at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Our work is not done when one in two Canadian women report having experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.
Our work is not done when Indigenous women represent 4.3% of Canada’s female population, but account for 16% of all murdered women in the country.
Our work is not done when a female worker earns 74 cents for every dollar earned by a male worker.
We cannot change these statistics unless we engage women as equal partners in our society – no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or social or family status.
Ontario’s Human Rights Code provides a vision of a society free from discrimination, where every one of us is respected and can contribute our talents, skills and strengths in a meaningful way. Yet, significant barriers continue to block women from contributing fully to society, and we all suffer from these roadblocks.
Sexual harassment, violence against women, the gender wage gap, discrimination in hiring – these barriers to success and fulfillment must be removed so future generations can thrive. Women’s rights are human rights, and women’s progress is progress for us all.
Interim Chief Commissioner
Ontario Human Rights Commission