March 8, 2021
Ottawa, Ontario – The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, today issued the following statement on International Women’s Day during Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Summit.
“A year ago, in 2020, we were gearing up for a milestone year in the movement to advance women’s rights and gender equality here in Canada and around the world. Canada marked the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Rather than the opportunity to celebrate the progress towards the goals of these key pillars of progress, 2020 brought us the global COVID crisis, presenting a serious challenge to the decades of movement towards greater gender equality.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced. It has magnified fundamental gaps in our society and disproportionately impacted those who were already marginalized, vulnerable or struggling.
This International Women’s Day, we salute the women on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. We acknowledge all the ways that women, particularly racialized women, have been most impacted by the pandemic.
Women have faced steep job losses, and many have bravely served on the front lines of this crisis in our communities or shouldered the burden of unpaid care work at home. They have been slower to return to work than men and continue to face challenges that threaten the hard-won gains of women in Canada
From the start, our response to the pandemic has applied a feminist lens, with an enhanced focus on intersectionality, to ensure that our response provides support to those who need it most. Canada has been recognized by CARE International as having the most gender-responsive plan to address COVID-19.
We asked people to stay home to keep each other safe, but we also recognized that not every home is safe. That’s why we committed $100 million in emergency funding to organizations providing gender-based violence services and supports to women and children across Canada. We helped over 1500 organizations keep their doors open through this challenging time.
We have put in place programs and initiatives to support women’s increased participation in the economy, and invested millions to support women entrepreneurs, helping them to adapt their businesses to meet current and future challenges. To ensure women can fully participate in the workforce, our government has also committed to creating an Action Plan for Women in the Economy and to making a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system that is affordable, accessible, inclusive and high quality.
As we continue to manage the impacts of COVID-19, our work to strengthen Canada’s vibrant women’s movement is also ongoing. Since 2015 we have increased financial support to women’s and equality-seeking organizations more than fivefold. This year, we have made available over $100 million to these organizations, specifically to support underserved and vulnerable women and girls, making the Government of Canada the number one funder of women’s organizations in the country. Every year, over six million Canadians are served by the work of these organizations.
We are continuing to address gender-based violence in all its forms. We are building on the Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence to move forward to develop a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence, with a focus on ensuring that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services. We are also working with Indigenous partners to respond to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to address the unacceptable and disproportionate impacts of violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals.
Today and tomorrow, the Government of Canada is hosting Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Summit to focus on the steps that governments, civil society and all Canadians can take to ensure an inclusive response to and recovery from the pandemic that leaves no one behind.
I hope this event will spark a series of similar conversations at cabinet tables, boardroom tables, and kitchen tables across the country. We all have a role to play in ensuring an inclusive response and recovery from COVID-19 and need to work together to get it done. Today and in the coming weeks, I invite you to join these conversations using #FeministRecovery on social media to recognize the contributions of women through this pandemic and make a pledge to support an inclusive recovery from COVID-19 in your community.”