International Women’s Day 2012

OTTAWAAs we celebrate the 101st International Women’s Day, we can both honour the achievements and reflect on the ongoing challenges facing women and girls in Canada today.

This year we can celebrate a long-awaited increase of women’s political participation in the House of Commons. The New Democrat Caucus, with 41% women, leads the way on this front.

“Parliament should reflect this country,” said Nathan Cullen (MP Skeena-Bulkley Valley), “and finally, we are starting to get there. The debate won’t be complete without women at the table.”

International Women’s Day is also a time to bring attention to the continued struggles for social justice that women and girls face every day. This year the United Nations has chosen hunger and poverty as its theme.

In Canada, 52.1 per cent of single mothers with children young children live in poverty. Women continue to earn 70% of what men make in full-time employment. In rural and remote regions in Canada, women make up 45% of the labour force but continue to face barriers related to work force participation and pay equity.

“This issue of women not earning equal pay for work of equal value has got to end,” said Cullen. “Women contribute in significant ways everyday and yet the numbers aren’t adding up.”

Other contributing factors for women who live in poverty include violence, racism and lack of equal opportunity. Among the hardest hit, are aboriginal women.

“Where there is violence, lack of access to high-quality education, lack of affordable and safe housing, there is poverty,” Cullen said. “It’s a shame that we must work together to change.”

30% of Skeena-Bulkley Valley’s population is Aboriginal. It can be difficult to break out of generations of poverty, especially in remote and rural areas where there can be a lack of access to critical resources.

In Ottawa, New Democrats introduced several bills today to promote gender equality.

There will be events across the riding to celebrate the achievements of and support the challenges of women and girls.

“Let’s join together and build a resilient Northwest.”

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