The city of Thunder Bay in Ontario raised a flag to mark International Women’s Day. (Christina Jung / CBC)

Women’s Day: progress in Canada but more to be done


The Canadian Women’s Foundation is pleased with progress being made on gender equality in Canada but vows to continue to press for progress.

Still feeling unsafe, says activist

“We know that some women and girls in Canada continue to feel unsafe and unequal,” says Keetha Mercer, a program manager at the foundation. “Some Canadian statistics (suggest that) 67 per cent of all Canadians personally know a woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted, 1.5 million women in Canada continue to live on a low income and by grade 10, only 14 per cent of girls in Canada say they feel confident.”


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said he is a feminist and Mercer was pleased to see measures announced in the government’s recent budget to address issues important to women. She says there has been a strong focus on equality in the workplace, on tackling gender-based violence and promoting gender equality.

There is cause to celebrate some of the initiatives of the avowed feminist Trudeau government, says Keetha Mercer..

‘Great wins…but’

“We’ve had some really great wins this past year,” says Mercer. “In particular…the Canadian Women’s Foundation applauds the additional funding for sexual assault centres because some areas of this country are desperately underserved.

“And we’re encouraged about investments being made in reaching teens and engaging them in conversations about gender equality particularly as a violence prevention strategy.

“But despite all of these great investments to support and keep women in the work force and to address gender-based violence, we are unhappy that there’s been no new investments in child care.”

Keetha Mercer was pleased with government measures in the budget but says more work needs to be done on issues affecting women and girls.

Mercer notes, the foundation’s theme this year is “press for progress. “We can’t get to a gender-equal Canada if we don’t listen to and recognize the unique experiences of women and girls from all walks of life and…if we don’t acknowledge and change systemic problems in our institutions, in our government, in schools, and address how gender inequality is affecting girls across the country.”

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