Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, I am pleased to be here today to announce such a worthy project supporting the strong leadership of women in Canadian media.
Today, the experience of seeing and hearing women in the media and in public discourse is an everyday reality.
There are women anchors headlining major broadcast news, and women columnists, bloggers and experts from all fields, voicing their opinions, knowledge and advice in all major media.
I know, first-hand, the importance of the strong presence of women in Canada’s media industry.
I worked in media for years, as did my Senate colleague the Honourable Pamela Wallin.
We know that women provide a major contribution to public discourse and decision making in Canada; although there are still gaps to fill.
There are many women who truly excel in their fields and should have the opportunity to share their knowledge and commentary with Canadians.
What better way than train them to be media leaders!
The project I am proud to announce today will help women become media saavy.
As a government, we want women to have access to the full range of career opportunities and aspirations, and we want all Canadians to benefit from the full range of diverse perspectives.
The project we are announcing today will help achieve those goals, addressing the priority issues of advancing women’s participation in leadership and decision-making roles, and strengthening their economic security and prosperity.
Je suis fière des efforts que déploie notre gouvernement afin d’encourager les femmes et les filles de tous les milieux et de tous les niveaux économiques à améliorer leur qualité de vie.
I am pleased, therefore, to announce funding to Media Action (National Watch on Images of Women in the Media) for its project, Informed Opinions.
This innovative project is strengthening women as leaders, and building their career opportunities by providing women professionals and experts in all fields with the skills they need to better share their knowledge in print, broadcast and online information media.
Ultimately, the project will open doors for Canadian women to proactively engage in the country’s social, economic and democratic life.
Media Action (National Watch on Images of Women in the Media) is receiving Government of Canada funding for its 18-month Informed Opinions project.
It will provide 200 women experts in all fields, from the non-profit and academic sectors, in four communities across Ontario, with the skills and confidence they need to make the knowledge they have more available to the news media.
Participants will build a range of skills, including those needed to write and deliver informed commentary.
This will increase the number of women experts whose voices and views are heard and read in the news media.
To carry out the project, Media Action will work in partnership with seven universities, including the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, to ensure that women professors at these schools have opportunities to express their expert opinions to the media.
This project will create systemic change by challenging the ways in which media are presented in Canada.
Furthermore, the people of Ontario will benefit from hearing and seeing the perspectives of women more often in the media.
We can take great pride in our government’s record of supporting Canadian women and men of all ages from diverse communities across our great country.
Our government is dedicated to helping raise awareness on issues related to violence against women, strengthening the economic prosperity of women and increasing the democratic participation of women in Canada.
These are the priority areas in which Status of Women Canada invests.
In fact, through Status of Women Canada, the Government of Canada’s support for community projects has nearly doubled since 2006-2007, growing from $11.8 million to $20.0 million.
What does this mean for Canadian women?
In concrete terms, it means that, in addition to today’s project:
- women in Labrador can participate in a series of seminars on entrepreneurship, business planning and management, and marketing;
- women in transitional housing in Victoria can develop the confidence and the financial literacy skills they need to become self-sufficient; and
- immigrant women and girls in Toronto can be empowered to protect themselves from violence and domestic abuse.
In addition, our government has introduced measures and programs that are helping women to be safer, more secure and economically successful.
That’s because we believe women’s safety goes hand-in-hand with women’s economic security.
In fact, since 2007, we have provided a record level of spending (more than $30 million) for projects that are helping to end violence against women. To name just a few:
- We have also introduced a program to address elder abuse, and made changes to the Criminal Code to really crack down on violent crime and the heinous offence of human trafficking.
- We announced a comprehensive initiative to address the serious and concerning issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The $10 million program will strengthen law enforcement and improve the justice system, boost victim’s services and support new awareness programs, among other significant initiatives that will implement critical change.
- This month, we re-introduced a critical piece of legislation to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act – changes to help prevent foreign workers from exploitation and human trafficking.
- A year ago, we introduced the new Citizenship Guide, which clearly states that in Canada, we value the principle of fair and equal treatment of women and girls.
- Our Government has also introduced key initiatives to strengthen women’s economic security, including:
- the Universal Child Care Benefit;
- a Working Income Tax Benefit benefiting low income Canadians;
- various measures that provide tax relief for seniors and pensioners, many of whom are women; and
- we extended maternity and E.I. benefits to self-employed women.
On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister Rona Ambrose and the Government of Canada, I congratulate Media Action on your invaluable work in the Canadian media industry. Your vision is an inspiration to us all. Thank you.