Fairness for Women: Action Plan of the New Democrat Caucus
Nearly 90 years ago, women got the vote and nearly 80 years ago they were legally recognized as ‘persons’. Since then, many other important battles have been won for women’s rights.
But recently women have been losing ground in their fight for equality as Conservative and Liberal governments in Ottawa have cut programs and taken a step backwards on women’s issues. After decades of progress towards equality, ordinary women in Canada are stalled economically, socially and politically.
Today, women in Canada are still not safe in their homes or on the streets. An estimated one in four women in Canada is a victim of sexual violence in her lifetime. In the workplace, women still only make 70% of what men make, and for university graduates it’s getting worse, not better.
Poverty affects almost half of single, widowed or divorced women over 65, and more than 40% of unattached women under 65.
Women and their families deserve better
There is only one party in Parliament which is steadfastly committed to women’s equality and that’s the New Democratic Party. The NDP believes that women’s equality is fundamental to this country and is committed to achieving it in every walk of life – from the makeup of the House of Commons, to pay equity, to childcare.
New Democrats have always stood side-by-side with women’s groups to support equality. Whether speaking out on issues like choice on abortion, breaking the silence on violence against women, electing the first female leader of a federal political party, pushing for proactive legislation on pay and employment equity or making sure that every piece of legislation is examined for its impact on women, the NDP is the party that has walked the talk when it comes to fighting for women’s equality.
The NDP believes Canadian women deserve fairness, affordability, equal opportunity, equal pay for work of equal value, a decent standard of living and the freedom to live without fear. Only the NDP has the plan to put the priorities of working and middle-class women first by making Canada a world leader for women’s equality.
Canada has a strong base on which to build when it comes to women’s equality. We have guaranteed equality rights in our Charter; decriminalized abortion and birth control, and a strong network of women’s services across the country, including emergency shelters and rape crisis centres.
But when compared to other countries, Canada is underperforming. The 2008 Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum ranks Canada 32st, behind Sri Lanka, Mozambique, the United States and most European countries. Canada’s rank has fallen dramatically while the Conservatives have been in power. In 2006 Canada ranked 14th and in 2007 Canada dropped to 18th.
Lack of attention to women’s rights from successive governments has stalled progress, and the outright opposition to women’s equality from the Harper Conservatives has started to turn back the clock.
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