OTTAWA – The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 – Choose to Challenge – calls for accelerating gender parity. In a recent UN Women Count report, data from 38 countries indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic could wipe out 25 years of progress towards gender equity.
“Women’s work has been undervalued, underpaid and precarious for too long,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, women and girls, already disproportionately affected by poverty, continue to be those impacted the most. Many of the job losses affecting women are in hard-hit sectors and may never come back. Adding to the challenge for many Canadian women is the lack of affordable child care.
“COVID-19 has also brought about a global ‘shadow pandemic’ of increased femicide, domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. Human rights abuses against women and girls around the world continue.
“Gender-based violence is all too common in conflict zones. The sterilization, rape and forced labour of Uygur women in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is genocide; the recent kidnapping of more schoolgirls in Nigeria, another tragic example of how the most vulnerable are used as pawns.
“As a country that purports to have a feminist foreign policy, we must do a better job of protecting women, girls, trans women, femme-identified and non-binary people. It’s important that we collaborate multilaterally to recognise and stamp out exploitation and abuse.”
Ms. Paul noted that the Green Party has urged the government to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “It has been almost two years since the final report delivered its 231 calls for justice; the decision by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett to delay presentation of the promised action plan is unfortunate and unacceptable. The Green Party urges the government to move swiftly on this.
“We are at a crossroads. This is a unique moment in history when our actions have the power to create transformative change for years to come. The pandemic has shone a light on the continuing issues of inequality, repression and violence perpetrated against women and girls. The climate crisis also looms large and that too will disproportionately affect women and vulnerable communities.
“As part of a Green Recovery women should be equally represented at the decision-making table in all sectors. We still do not have enough women at the highest level of politics. I am the only woman leading a major federal party in Canada, and only one province/territory is led by a woman. It has been almost 20 years since any other major party has elected a woman as leader, and some have never had one.
“So, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the Green Party of Canada ‘Chooses to Challenge’ itself to always propose the best policies for supporting and protecting women, girls, trans women and femme-identified people. We know that when women and girls thrive, so too do we all. It’s been over a hundred years since the first International Women’s Day; we have made progress, but a great deal of urgent work still lies ahead of us.”
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