The National Council of Women of Canada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE…

Ottawa
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: March 8, 2004

A REFLECTION by an older woman who sees that many of the gains we made are being rolled back and asks, “What are we celebrating?”

In this year when elections are forecast, let us reflect that in the more than 80 years since Canadian women gained the right to vote, we have still not managed to achieve equality of representation in the senior elected bodies that govern us. Why?

In this year, 97 years after the National Council of Women of Canada first proposed that women should have pay equity with men, this is still an unrealized demand in most fields of employment (with some exceptions). Why?

In this year when women are more than 50% of the Canadian population, our demands for maintaining the Canada Health Care System are being ignored, or treated demands for an expensive luxury that cannot be accommodated while cuts to corporate Income Taxes are being granted. Why?

In this year, when women realize the importance of giving our children who are the future the best possible start in life do we still have elected governments that are not acting to eliminate Child Poverty (meaning poor families) and ensure that their care includes early childhood education. We know that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider every year and that the middle class is increasingly poorer. Why?

In this year Aboriginal women are still among the poorest of Canada’s poor, in spite of recommendations from many Royal Commissions over the last quarter of a century. Why?

Perhaps celebrating International Women’s Day is not a good idea. After all, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to realize that there is not that much to celebrate, especially when we think as we should of our sisters in other countries. Where is our political will to see to it that we elect the representatives who will recognize our priorities, as opposed to the present representatives’ use of empty fair words? Surely by 2004, we should have realized that we are being gulled and lulled by those who do not see life as a cooperative enterprise in raising the next generation, but as an exercise in power and gaining extra privileges at the expense of others.

Let us celebrate, but let it be a celebration of the will to overcome. And let that act of celebration be a rededication to achieving real and permanent change, a call to action.

Catharine Laidlaw-Sly
President
National Council of Women of Canada

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