This morning I had the honour to once again narrate the ceremony for the Annual Governor General’s Awards in commemoration of the Persons Case.
Five extremely deserving women with very impressive achievements were recognized: Madeline Boscoe; Nancy Hartling; Lucie Joyal; Sharon Donna McIvor; and Kim Pate.
And this year the Persons Case Youth Award was presented to Amber JoAnn Fletcher.
These remarkable women, and all, recipients of this Award, serve as examples of selfless dedication to eliminating ceilings and borders for all females.
And much progress has been made.
Today, 34 percent of all Senators are women; a quarter of all Members of Parliament are women; females make up nearly 60 percent of college and university enrolment.
Women are making huge strides at the top echelons of the corporate world.
But, while there are reasons to be hopeful, women in Canada still have a long way to go.
Since the beginning of time, gender selection has always favoured male fetuses.
This was as true in 19th century France as it is in today’s Asia.
The one child policy in China has created an artificial gender imbalance with a ratio of 124 boys to every 100 girls.
The Economist, in a 2010 exposé, referred to gendercide as the worldwide war on baby girls.
A war that has resulted in the “missing women or aborted female foetus phenomenon” not only in China but in India as well.
Sadly the assault on females does not discriminate by demography or geography.
On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
On any given day in Canada, more than 3,000 women are living in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.
Over 80 percent of all victims of human trafficking are female.
Did you know that according to the United Nations, there are a staggering 5,000 instances annually of women and girls being shot, stoned, burned, poisoned, buried alive, strangled, smothered or knifed to death by family members in the name of family honour?
In Canada alone, 12 such barbaric honour killings occurred between 2002 and 2007.
Our government has taken steps to prevent violence against women – domestic, sexual, honour, random, or exploitive – through legislative amendments and changes to Discover Canada, our citizenship guide.
Even with new tough on crime measures, the world as a whole, and Canada in our case, can still be a dangerous place for women of all ages.
Some do not feel safe on the streets of their neighbourhoods;
many do not even feel safe within their own family.
However, I know that with continued political attention and public awareness campaigns the safety and security of all women will continue to improve.