Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in support of this bill because it reinforces what we are doing at home, as has been very well articulated by my colleague, but also what we are doing globally. As Canada pursues its progressive free trade agenda, it very much puts the well-being of women at the centre, as well as other marginalized groups, particularly those in the LGBTQ community or with disabilities. We are doing that because we know that women's welfare is at the heart of the strength of families and communities.
As I travel as the Parliamentary Secretary for International Trade around the world, I make it a point in every country I go to, to host a roundtable of women in international trade because I want them to understand that they are helping Canada to achieve its goals of equality for women. What I find is that whether I am in a strict Muslim country, or a communist country, or a country very similar to ours, our progressive trade agenda is being celebrated, and women are attaching to it, because they know the difference it makes when women are empowered and when women are thriving in business.
I believe that our government's progressive agenda is actually suggesting to the world that women will be one of the greatest drivers of progress the world has ever seen, and the bill allows us to say that to Canadians, and as Canadians to take responsibility for that because who are we to travel around the world and suggest that what we think our progressive trade agenda is all about includes women everywhere else.
The current reality facing women globally is that we continue to be less represented in the workplaces of the world. We make less money than men. We do more menial jobs. We face discrimination at work, and we face discrimination when we access services. We are subject to violence because of our gender. We face barriers to education. We carry the lion's share of raising children. Frequently, we are denied the right to determine the fate of our own bodies.
Those statements sound quite bold, and maybe they sound like exaggerations, but they are not. From my perspective, the point of the bill is to allow us to say those things out loud, and to allow people to reflect on their experience as women or men, and ask themselves, have I stretched in order to ensure that women have the same opportunity as men do?
Increasing the participation of women in society improves the lives of women, families, and communities. With regard, for example, to the well-known micro-financing lender, the Grameen Bank, it came to the conclusion after several years that the best investment was to make micro-loans to women. About 97% of the world's largest micro-financing bank lends to women, and there are several concrete reasons and several concrete outcomes. One is, women pay it back. They are less of a risk. Second, when they have money, they invest first of all in their children; second, in their home; third, in their community; and fourth, in themselves. I forgot to mention that they also tend to bring other women with them, and share with them the opportunity.
We know that this has been very successful as it is highly documented. It is also well documented that when a corporate board is equally made up of women and men, the bottom line is that much stronger. I would suggest there are reasons related to the reasons I just gave for that, so what we are doing by not establishing this week, as one tool that we have, is that we are essentially saying we do not want to realize our full potential as a society. We do not want to extend to each and every Canadian equal opportunity. We cannot stand proudly on our progressive free trade agenda unless we are doing this equally at home.
In the times we face right now, the world looks at our progressive trade agenda as a beacon of hope that is very much needed. That is going to be powered by the women in Canada, and the women around the world who relate to the policies of our government. They are the ones who will be celebrated in the bill, and in this week that I certainly hope we will be celebrating this fall.