On June 21, 2018, Bill C-309, an Act to establish Gender Equality Week, received Royal Assent in Parliament. This Act designates the fourth week in September every year as Gender Equality Week.
Sven Spengemann, the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Lakeshore, brought this Private Member’s Bill forward after hearing about the full scope of challenges that Canadian women as well as Canadians of minority gender identity and expression contend with on a daily basis.
In developing the text of the Act, Sven and his team consulted with local and national organizations, including women’s shelters and women’s groups, Indigenous communities, and all levels of government.
Gender equality and gender equity issues should be at the forefront of conversations every day of the year. Even in 2018, much work remains to be done on issues such as pay equity, gender-based violence and opportunities for women in the STEM fields.
This Act is not a celebratory piece of legislation, but identifies these challenges in a clear and compelling manner. While the federal government is advancing gender equality at the national level, all Canadians must become involved in order for real, lasting progress to be achieved. Gender Equality Week provides an annual opportunity to amplify awareness and create the leverage that we need to move forward.
Through community town halls and debates, research proposals, television and media reports, fundraising initiatives, marches, art and music, and other forms of advocacy, Canadians can engage in local, community-based dialogue to overcome gender-based disparities.
Rachelle Bergen, one of the founding members of the Mississauga-based organization Strength in Stories, said that “by fostering greater awareness of gender-based gaps in Canada, Gender Equality Week will help create role models and inspire future generations of Canadian women.”
Sven and his team would like to thank all stakeholders, colleagues, and constituents in Mississauga—Lakeshore who have given their feedback, encouragement, and support to bring us to where we are today.
If you have questions or would like to share your thoughts and ideas on Gender Equality Week, please contact Sven’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-992-4848.
Pictured, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada during the Royal Assent Ceremony for Bill C-309.