Statement by NDP Status of Women critic Niki Ashton on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8, 2013

On International Women’s Day people all over the world reflect on and celebrate the political, social and economic progress women have made. We acknowledge with gratitude the trailblazing women who paved the way and salute advocates who provided support. 

We’ve come a long way in this country from the days where women were not permitted to vote or hold property as they were considered to be property themselves. With marriage and motherhood no longer deemed a woman’s highest ambition, women have the option to pursue higher education. 

We have made much progress but there is still much to be done to achieve gender equality. Canadian women still earn less than men and a disproportionate number of women are in low-paid, positions resulting in a precarious retirement. The lack of affordable, universally accessible child care puts women at a significant disadvantage. All around the world women and girls continue to face disproportionate incidences of violence, poverty and violations of their basic human rights.

Instead of showing leadership by working to achieve equality, the Conservative government is dedicated eroding women’s rights. They have failed to recognise that the right to reproductive choice is a critical element of women having control over their own destiny and is fundamental to the struggle for the ultimate goal, the full equality of women in Canada and around the world. They have tried repeatedly to reopen the abortion debate.

 According to the government’s own statistics First Nations women are five to seven times more likely than any other women to die as a result of violence. Despite this the Conservatives continue to drag their feet on calling a national inquiry into the over 580 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, the loss of whom is devastating not just to their families and loved ones, but to Canada as a nation. 

 New Democrats believe that Canadian women deserve fairness, affordability, equal opportunity, equal pay for work of equal value, a decent standard of living, the right to choose and the freedom to live without fear. We will continue fighting to ensure the full and equal rights of all women and to oppose the Conservative government’s attack on women.