Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise on behalf of Her Majesty's loyal opposition to mark International Women's Day. It is a time that we celebrate women's contributions to our country and our society and reflect on the work that still needs to be done.
We have seen women make incredible strides in their own fields. In sports it is women such as Hayley Wickenheiser, Bianca Andreescu and Brooke Henderson. For women such as Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, Linda Hasenfratz and Dawn Farrell, it is in their roles as CEOs of major corporations here in Canada. In politics, Agnes Macphail, Nelly McClung and Flora MacDonald Denison made incredible strides.
Although it has been almost 100 years since women were granted the right to vote and the first female parliamentarian took her seat in the House of Commons, we know there is still a lot of work to be done. We know that Canada's population is over 50% women, yet, in this House, only 29% of elected officials are women. We must continue to work further.
We know the same challenges exist for women in the STEM fields. More women are graduating from these programs but tend not to remain in their fields after graduation. Recent information published in January revealed that, on average, women earned 12% less than men just one year after graduation.
As of February 1, 2019, women accounted for 15.7% of the Canadian Armed Forces. Aboriginal women are three times more likely to be victims of violence than non-aboriginal women, and 83% of women with disabilities will experience some form of violence in their lifetime. There is still more work that needs to be done.
The question I have for everyone in this place, at home and across the country, is what can they do to achieve gender equality? International Women's Day 2020 reminds us, “We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.”
We must continue to fight against bias, stereotypes and bad behaviour. We must continue to fight to protect the most vulnerable women and girls who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. We must continue to address issues like cyber-bullying and online violence. We must continue to remove the barriers impacting women's well-being.
Words are not enough and our actions matter. How can we be part of the change? How can we open the doors for women and girls and provide them the same opportunities? What can we do to help to increase confidence, teach skills and build capacity for women?
Together we can make change. Together we can help create a gender-equal world. We can all work together toward equality if we are all paddling in the same direction, and we can do it faster.
By achieving equality, we will reduce domestic and sexual violence. We will close the pay gap, and we will create a better society for all Canadians. This year, Canada's theme for International Women's Day is “Because of You”. We are the difference. Happy International Women's Day.