Every year, on March 8th, International Women’s Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of generations of trailblazing women and girls. Here in Ontario, the contributions of women have been central in shaping the values and traditions we share today. Throughout the history of this province, women have overcome hardship, exclusion, and discrimination while pursuing equity and equality. In continuing this important work, and building on the successes of the pioneering women who came before them, we carry forward the mission of ensuring young girls grow up in a place where they have the same opportunities as young boys.
The beginnings of International Women’s Day can be traced back to early twentieth century labour movements and demands for equal participation in society. We’ve come a long way since then, and the bar has been raised. In the struggle to expand opportunity and achieve equality, women and girls have been leading the fight by increasing visibility and calling out inequality at every turn. As we build back from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that the recovery process advances women. This is a time when it’s critical that women across the province receive added support; ensuring that every family in Ontario has access to affordable, high quality childcare would enable more women to choose to find and keep good jobs.
This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, reminds us that despite the progress that has been made, women and girls — particularly women and girls of color — continue to face systemic barriers to full participation. The COVID-19 pandemic created a she-cession which threatened the hard-fought social and economic progress of all women. The fallout of the pandemic exposed and exacerbated disparities which have disproportionately impacted women’s labor force participation, multiplied the burden on paid and unpaid caregivers, thrust frontline workers including PSWs, nurses and registered nurse practitioners into a state of near burnout, and increased gender-based violence at alarming rates.
This March 8th, as we celebrate the achievements of women in Ontario who have and continue to pave the way forward, let us also reflect on the strength and resilience of women and girls who are struggling right now in conflict settings. Let’s take inspiration in their collective desire for better, and recommit to the fight for a more equal society where every person is treated equally, and where everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. As the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood these past 9 years, I have seen the incredible strength, care, creativity, energy, and hard work of women that makes our society great. In Scarborough and Ontario, let’s take action together to build a province and a nation that’s free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. Let’s make sure everyone in this province has the chance to reach their full potential.