FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued by Nathalie Chiasson, the chairperson of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, on the occasion of International Women's Day:

According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, women and girls continue to make up more than half of Canada’s overall population. This upward trend does not show any signs of letting up. Also, more women are completing post-secondary education and occupying a larger share of the labour market. Another encouraging trend sees the number of women opting for careers in science and technology today nearly double what it was in previous decades.

On this International Women's Day, we celebrate the tremendous advances that Canadian women have made over the past few generations. In our own province, women contribute in all areas of our society. The numbers and high performance of girls and women in New Brunswick schools, colleges and universities shows that they have the skills and knowledge to be equal participants in the private and public sectors. Grassroots efforts in our province are working to increase the number of women who stand for election, and to support and engage them earlier in the process to increase their chances of success.

Our government promotes the equitable representation of women in positions of influence and encourages pay equity in the private sector, Crown corporations and unions. Minimum wages and access to daycare, both of which affect women disproportionately, are being increased. The government has also introduced legislation to support victims of intimate partner violence, who are disproportionately women.

But while women and girls have made gains on several fronts in society, we are still far from having reached equality, especially in the key area of wage parity. Women continue to earn, on average, 73.5 cents for every dollar men earn. This translates to about $8,000 less than men at the end of the year. This gap is more prevalent for women without a high school diploma or post-secondary degree. For these women, their pay is often considered as a family's supplementary revenue, but it is not. Women also have to provide for their families, sometimes as single parents. It is important that they be paid equally to men when they do the same type of work.

As we mark International Women’s Day on this Wednesday, March 8, I ask all New Brunswickers to continue demanding that women and girls in this country and this province have equal access to education, safety and economic prosperity. Such change requires determination, confidence, and often courage. The motto for this year's International Women's Day reflects this, as it reminds us to, Be Bold for Change. Bold action and bold habits of speaking out for equality will result in a more equitable and inclusive society.

The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission is an essential part of the struggle to achieve gender equality and to eliminate discrimination. This year, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the Human Rights Commission. Since 1967, the commission has worked to resolve complaints of discrimination and to educate New Brunswickers about human rights. It works with the government to strengthen human rights legislation and to respect human rights in laws and policies. Visit the commission's website to learn about its services and to see a schedule of events celebrating its 50th anniversary.