Celebrating International Women's Day

And Working Every Day to Improve Women's Equality and to End Violence Against Women

Earlier this week, I attended an emotional vigil for Loretta Saunders on Parliament Hill, a 26-year-old Inuit woman studying at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, who disappeared on February 13th. She was found murdered in New Brunswick last week.

Saunders was writing her honours thesis on the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Heartbreakingly, she became one of the missing and murdered women she was fighting for.

As my colleagues and I stood in solidarity, Loretta’s family members spoke and called for national inquiry.

This is a national crisis. Canada is failing Indigenous women and girls, and we cannot wait any longer to take action.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada and the NDP are working together, and calling on the federal government to create a national action plan to address violence against women that includes an independent national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

Violence against women still remains systemic and widespread in Canada; and although rates of violent crimes in Canada have been declining for the past 40 years, rates of violence against women remain consistent.

  • Women are 11 times more likely to be a victim of sexual offences, and 3 times more likely to be the victim of criminal harassment.
  • Indigenous women in Canada are seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women.
  • 60% of women with disabilities experience some form of  violence in their lifetime.

Gender inequality is the root cause of violence against women, and we cannot lose sight of the importance of the pursuit of gender equality.

While women have made unprecedented strides toward equality in the last century it is crucial that on this day we not only celebrate that progress, but also renew our resolve to break down the barriers that still exist for women and girls everywhere.

I am proud to be a part of Canada’s New Democrats, who were the first to raise spousal abuse in Parliament, who created the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, and who continue to call for a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.

Our caucus will continue to fight for women’s equality and stand up to violence against women.

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Here are some of the campaigns we are working on:

Ending violence against women // Launch inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: www.ndp.ca/women

Make May 5th the National Day of the Midwife: http://p.ndp.ca/midwives

It’s time for quality childcare that’s affordable: http://p.ndp.ca/childcare