JOINT STATEMENT – Accelerating change for women collectively

March 8, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

On the occasion of International Women's Day 2024, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and Lori Straznicky, Pay Equity Commissioner, issue the following joint statement:

Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the powerful contributions of women change-makers in our society and recommit to centering the diverse contributions of all women in the fight for gender justice and equality.

We must not only celebrate the voices of feminist pioneers whose names and stories we know, but also amplify the voices of those not being heard, including two-spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse individuals. We must ensure that all women have a voice at the table and a say in how to achieve equality — no matter their race or ethnicity, their faith, their gender identity or expression, their sexual orientation, their ability, or their socioeconomic status.

In an era filled with voices competing for attention for different issues, the realities facing marginalized women are not getting the attention they deserve. From racialized women, to women with disabilities, to women living in vulnerable socioeconomic circumstances, there is a real risk that the specific and multifaceted barriers that women in equity-deserving groups continue to encounter are being lost in the conversation.

Women’s contributions in the workforce continue to be undervalued, with Statistics Canada reporting that part-time and full-time women in Canada's workforce earn approximately 87 cents for every dollar earned by men. Not only are women living on less, but being underpaid also means that women have lower lifetime earnings, including lower pensions. Women are also underrepresented in positions of authority, with those who do breach the upper echelons being compensated at a disproportionately lower rate.

It is a flawed system that creates a vicious cycle that undervalues women and their contributions, time and time again. According to Statistics Canada, 11.4% of women live below the low income measure. A disproportionate number of them are also Black, Indigenous, living with disabilities, and are therefore fighting discrimination on multiple fronts.

When these barriers are coupled with the phenomenon known as “motherhood penalty” — where mothers receive lower pay and fewer opportunities in the workforce — the burden of discrimination faced by women is staggering. This phenomenon is made even more urgent by the fact that when women live in poverty, children are affected. Census data indicates that 17.7% of children in Canada are living below the family low-income threshold.

All of this is why we must accelerate our progress towards gender equality. Only then can cycles of poverty and inequality be broken. It is only by heeding the voice of all women in Canada that we can truly understand and address the ways systemic inequalities manifest in women’s daily lives.

Now more than ever, as we push for change for equity-deserving groups, we must keep the rights of women in those various groups front and centre. We need to amplify the voices of change-makers and understand the difficulties faced by so many women in Canada, so that we can strive for tangible change.

We need to advocate for equal opportunities and challenge harmful gender norms. We need to create a Canada where women are paid fairly, can live free from harassment and violence, can practice their religion, and can express their identity without fear. Because it is only when the value and contributions of all women in Canada are made equal, that all of Canada as a whole can thrive.

Join us this month in raising our collective voice to celebrate women in Canada, and to ensure that the pressing issues of gender equality and justice are not forgotten.


Helpful links

Media Contacts

Media Relations

Stay Connected

Follow the Commission on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.
Watch us on YouTube.

Follow the Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Date modified: