1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 19

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

International Women’s Day

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, every day in this chamber we reaffirm our commitment to fight for equality and for the rights of minorities. We commit to representing the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Today, on International Women’s Day, I ask that we also commit to fighting for those who can speak for themselves but who are not given the chance to do so. I ask that we stop thinking of women as victims and as voiceless and that we stand with women to help them be heard and be seen as leaders in our society.

Every day atrocities occur around the world. Often, and importantly, our global conversation focuses on the victims of these conflicts. We all know about the disproportionate way that conflict affects women and girls, but too often we forget to discuss the incredible strength women and girls have and the key roles they play in creating peace in their communities and in the world.

Honourable senators, in 2000, Canada was on the United Nations Security Council, and we played a lead role in the unanimous adoption of UN Resolution 1325. This resolution recognized not only that war uniquely affects women but also that peace processes cannot work without the inclusion of women at all levels and that women should be seen as leaders.

Honourable senators, the sad fact is that in the recent peace negotiations, women have been fewer than 8 per cent of participants and fewer than 3 per cent of the signatories, and not one woman has ever been appointed chief or lead mediator in the UN-sponsored peace talks.

As parliamentarians, we can do something about this. This International Women’s Day, I ask us to focus on what we can do to change these numbers. I ask us to focus on empowering women. In keeping with this today, I released an e-book on the important role we play as parliamentarians in protecting our national commitment to UN Resolution 1325.

Honourable senators, I hope we can commit to this important task together, and I hope to see you at the open caucus event being held this Wednesday to continue our conversation on women, peace and security.

Honourable senators, I’m pleased to celebrate International Women’s Day with you, and I am pleased to recommit to the important work of fighting for women’s voices all around the world. Peace processes do not mean anything if they are not sustainable. If we have to stop the conflict — if we want to stop the conflict — we have to include women.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!