Statement by Minister Fantino: International Women's Day

March 8, 2013

The Harper Government is committed to addressing the problem of violence against women and girls, both at home and around the world.

I know first-hand the importance of law enforcement, the rule of law, and community action in preventing and addressing violence against women. As Canadians, this is an issue of grave concern, both at home and abroad. Violence against women is senseless, self-defeating, and is a moral stain.

An estimated one in three women will experience some form of violence during her lifetime. Women are being harassed in the workplace or community, forced into early marriage, abused by partners, trafficked for sexual exploitation, and raped as a tactic of war. This violence has its roots in persistent discrimination against women. The risk is even greater for women who are socially disenfranchised and vulnerable.

We know that when women and girls have the safety and security they need, they are able to play a more active role in society. Communities are safer, poverty decreases, opportunities for development expand, and entire families benefit.

Canada is working hard to address the plight of women and girls affected by violence. Two years ago, we adopted the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. We have established international rosters to assist in the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence, and we have supported lawyers, counsellors and women survivors of violence in countries as varied as Colombia, Syria, Darfur, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Afghanistan.

Canada has affirmed that women's rights are human rights. By respecting these rights, by eliminating not only sexual violence, but also all forms of violence against women, our societies will be strong for all of us. We must renew our collective efforts to ensure that women and girls have the safety and security they need to live in freedom and dignity.

Julian Fantino
Minister of International Cooperation