Every woman counts

March 8, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

To mark International Women's Day, Charlotte Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, together with Interim Pay Equity Commissioner, Lori Straznicky, issues the following statement:

Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate all women and their invaluable contributions to social, economic, cultural, and political advancements toward gender equity. The theme for International Women’s Day in 2023 is “Every Woman Counts,” underlining that every woman, everywhere, has intrinsic and undeniable value.

It can be easy on days like this to think only of the historic names of our past, as well as our contemporary heroes of today, who have become household names for their public role in breaking down walls and barriers for women everywhere. But these names only tell the exceptional stories. For most women in Canada, including those who identify as trans, their quiet everyday courage goes mainly unsung. The single mother working to keep her family thriving. The women who shoulder the bulk of caregiving duties while juggling a full-time job. The bravery of a woman deciding to file a complaint to stand up to workplace harassment. The determination of women across Canada’s workforce who simply want to be paid the same as their male counterparts who do work of equal value.

Today, we must remember to focus our attention on these stories of everyday courage, happening right now across Canada, and how each of them in their own way is helping to move the needle forward.

Because the fact remains that after decades of human rights progress and hard-fought battles for change, women and girls continue to face significant challenges. From poverty, to housing need, to gender wage gaps, and countless other barriers, far too many women lack the equal opportunity to thrive. This is especially true for Indigenous, Black and other racialized women, low-income women, members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, women with disabilities and women who experience other intersecting identities.

As Canada looks to a more sustainable tomorrow, it is imperative that gender equity be at the centre of our policies. We need all levels of government and all communities across Canada to work together to ensure gender equity. We must give every woman the support and opportunity to choose her own path. We must ensure every woman can participate in society without worrying about the value of their work or fearing discrimination. Gender equity in Canada will only happen when every woman has a voice.

Today is a reminder that every woman’s story — known or unknown — matters. And while we must continue to honour the legacies of the exceptional women who have come before us, we must keep working together to build a Canada where everyone can thrive, where every woman counts. Because every woman’s story is Canada’s story.

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