Statement – When women are able to thrive, everyone thrives.

September 18, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

In honour of the inaugural International Equal Pay Day, Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Karen Jensen, Federal Pay Equity Commissioner, issue the following statement:

Today marks the first time that countries around the world are recognizing International Equal Pay Day.

On this day, we celebrate and acknowledge the work that women do, and their right to be paid equitably for it. This important day reaffirms our commitment to human rights and to speaking out against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls. It sends a signal that we must all set our sights on achieving pay equity for women everywhere.

This day is also a reminder of the work that we still need to do. It is a call to action. We must continue to work to change the structures that undervalue and underpay work traditionally done by women. We must make progress to eliminate the persistent pay gap that puts women at a disadvantage. We must address the additional barriers faced by racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low-income, single mothers, LGBTQ2I+ women, and women with disabilities, for whom existing economic inequities are amplified.

As Canada deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing pay equity and gender equality takes on even more urgent importance. Women are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many of the frontline workers being called upon to serve and support their communities are women. Some are among the poorest paid workers in the country. Some have little or no options for sick leave or working-from home. Many women have had to continue working while caring for children with little or no support. That is why we recently called for Canada to take a feminist approach to its social and economic recovery efforts.

The longstanding impacts of pay inequity, coupled with the impacts of the pandemic, could have long-term and far reaching consequences. When designing an approach to recovery, Canada must ensure that it promotes pay equity, gender equality and a more inclusive society. It is an opportunity to restore momentum in our efforts to bring about gender equality in Canada. Closing the gender pay gap and improving social services for women in vulnerable circumstances are a must.

When women are able to thrive, everyone thrives.