As Canada marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, it is important to reflect on our legacy for the future.
Despite the important milestones we have met as a country throughout the years, women, girls, and gender non-conforming people still face hardships.
A lot of work still needs to be done before absolute gender equality becomes a reality in Canada.
By investing in a strong and thriving gender equality movement today, we are laying the foundation for achieving gender equality for tomorrow.
Last Thursday at the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise, local MP Don Rusnak announced federal funding for a project that will advance gender equality in Northwestern Ontario on behalf of Status of Women minister Maryam Monsef.
PARO will receive $369,676 in federal funding for its project to increase women's participation in political leadership in government and school boards.
Through this project, the organization will work in partnership with Women in Politics to increase public engagement, capacity for, and willingness to support gender equality and women's political leadership by establishing an advisory committee to guide a needs assessment of issues and address systemic barriers specific to Northwestern Ontario.
This initiative is part of an $18-million investment by the government to support grassroots organizations across the country.
The grant will support 150 women leaders across the country who will work together to support feminist action for gender equality at the national level.
The network is being convened by the Canadian Women's Foundation.
Back in October, Status of Women Canada invited organizations to propose projects that advance gender equality across Canada.
As of June, some 50 projects have been approved for more than $18 million in funding to advance gender equality.
This is the most funding to ever be approved through a Status of Women Canada call for proposals.
Approved projects will take place over a period of three years.
“As we reflect on our history this year, it is important to remember the hardships women, girls, gender non-conforming people, and others faced, as well as celebrate their successes in making gender equality a reality,” noted Monsef.
“A lot more work remains to live in a country where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” she added.
"We need to consider the legacy we want to leave future generations of Canadians, one that includes gender equality.
“By acting now, we can support a vibrant gender equality movement that will make lasting progress toward equality, for the next 150 years and beyond,” Monsef said.
“I am proud of our government's commitment to gender equality and thrilled to see the work that is being done with women and girls in the community,” said Rusnak.
“Through this new project, the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise will work to remove some of the barriers that hold us all back from reaching gender equality,” he noted.
“We will all benefit from their efforts.”
“This project will work to change how people see value in participating in local politics and on boards, and the value of women participating,” echoed Rosalind Lockyer, executive director, PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise.
"It also will provide the support that women need to be more confident about putting their name on the ballot.
“And, if they are not wanting to run, we want to gather general and direct community support for women who want to participate,” Lockyer added.
“We are honoured to partner with Women in Politics on this project in support of gender equality.”
“Women in Politics are pleased to accept the Status of Women Canada Grant in partnership with PARO,” said Rebecca Johnson, co-chair of Women in Politics Thunder Bay.
"This will enable our group to assist women in their leadership journey through educational workshops, mentorship programs, and various networking events.
“With the goal to have more women in roles of leadership responsibility, Women in Politics Thunder Bay will use the financial allocation and realize its purpose,” Johnson added.