March 7th, 2015

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s statement on International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day, we, as a province, have a lot to reflect on as we look at the year that was. It was a year where the horrible realities that so many women have faced in their everyday lives were pushed into the public eye.

We have seen the culture of fear and secrecy that exists in workplaces where powerful men are allowed to act with impunity.

We have seen how many women’s voices can be silenced by a single male voice, especially when they are backed by institutions that are willing to protect them.

We have seen a culture of misogyny on campus, where young minds are being shaped and future professionals are obtaining their credentials.

We have seen the explosion of precarious work, and part time work, where women, particularly immigrant women, are overrepresented.

We have seen the harassment and stalking that women face online.

We have seen doctors still allowed to practice medicine even after being found to have perpetrated sexual assaults on woman patients, and a regulatory body that is not required to immediately involve the police when they learn of these crimes.

We continue to see women with no choices return to abusive partners. Women are still dying and their children are still being traumatized. 

We continue to see women paid 30% less than their male counterparts.

We continue to learn of aboriginal women across our nation who are missing or have been murdered but we do not see justice for them and their families. 

In the face of  all of this, it is clear how far we still have to go before we have a just, safe and equal province.

We should be addressing the systemic issues that marginalize women. Instead we have a  government that continues to impose deep cuts to services in Ontario. We know that it is women who will disproportionately bear the brunt of these cuts. Across the province, closures of obstetrics wards, support centres for women in crisis and child care centres are hurting women. The fragmented and inadequate homecare and long term care systems are hurting women and the explosion of precarious and unpaid work under this government is pushing more and more women to the margins.

Most of the public sector workers already on the picket lines are women workers:  nurses, educational workers and women who deliver Ontario’s public services.

We must do better, we can do better, and New Democrats are demonstrating how we will do better.

This was a year where women refused to stay silent in the face of rape, harassment and assault. We must thank those women for their courage and take pride in the public discourse it has spurred. As women we must continue to take up our space, to continue to stand and speak with our equal voices, proudly anywhere, any time.  All of us – women and men – must recommit ourselves to speak up and act with women and for women.

That is how we can truly celebrate International Women’s Day.