Mr. Speaker, yesterday, March 8, marked International Women’s Day.
Last week, I had the privilege of hosting York Region women to gather, celebrate and listen to the words of several women.
Our York Region Liberal caucus joined together to recognize the importance of International Women's Day not only in celebrating women but also in recognizing the need for ongoing efforts to reach gender equity.
I could not emphasize how powerful it was to sit in here and listen to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development. We also had three guest speakers: Anastasia Dieieva, a powerful woman from Ukraine, spoke of the challenges facing women in her home country; Lily Pourzand, a gender equality specialist and Iranian Canadian, addressed the heroic efforts of women in Iran; and Malika Khimji, a young woman who lives in our riding, shared her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities young women experience.
International Women's Day is one day a year, a very important one with a long history. We must continue to observe it, to remember the work that has been done and continues to be done. Moreover, every day, we must all work toward gender equity. We still have a long way to go.
Worldwide, only 24% of parliamentarians are women. In Canada, just over 30% are. Of course, women from marginalized communities are even less proportionally represented. We are doing a disservice to our country by not fully engaging all the talent we have in positions of leadership.
I want to end with a quote from Nellie McClung, a well-known Canadian suffragist and early member of the Alberta legislature: “Never Apologize. Never retract. Never explain. Get the thing done and let them howl.”