MPP Hazell’s Response to Ministerial Statement on International Women’s Day

  • Legislative Review

Madame Speaker, it gives me great honour to stand before you and the members of this Legislature to speak about International Women’s Day and what it means to me. In 1975, the United Nations first declared March 8th as International Women’s Day. In 1996 it announced the first annual theme as celebrating the past, planning for the future, and we are that future! We must always find opportunities to impact the lives of women and young girls by showing up for them and giving them a shot at having equal opportunities. This year’s U.N. designated theme is “invest in women: accelerate progress”. So let us all aim at tackling disempowerment that comes with gender inequality!

International Women’s Day is to never forget to celebrate the achievements of women whether small or great. Awareness of our triumphs must not only be raised on this day but every day! We must encourage a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, a world where we can all value and celebrate our self-worth. We must come together collectively, at all levels of government, corporations, institutions, to collectively work towards an inclusive and equitable world for women and young girls. We must raise awareness about discrimination, gender-based violence, and gender parity, including in this chamber, where only 47 of our 124 members are women. This is 2024, gender parity is non-negotiable.

I hope that this government chooses to reflect on why they initially chose to deny us Liberals the right to address the chamber today, and that they only relented after public pressure and media attention. I know that Ontarians noticed that the Conservatives chose to make International Women’s Day a partisan issue instead of a moment for us all to come together and celebrate women. I wanted to start today championing women, instead I was forced to fight for my right to speak up to men like countless women before me.
I want to give one last shoutout. To my caucus colleagues and other Independents, as we stood side by side to call out this government for preventing us from speaking, thank you! To the Member from London West, thank you for standing in solidarity with us as well. And to the women in the governing party, I sincerely hope you felt our pain and raised your voices to the men who stood in our way, because loyalty to your party should never come second to standing up for all our women and our young girls.
I am standing here very proud representing my daughter, her name is Rayan Hazell, and all of our daughters! I am here fighting for their future and their freedom of speech. I will always stand up for women equality and women inclusiveness. I want to always encourage every one of you in here today to stand up for women and young girls to help break barriers, inspire change and shape our society. The people of Ontario elected us to represent them, they matter to all of us. May this message be delivered very strongly to our young girls who are tuning into this session, who are listening to us, who are looking up to us to lead them through these challenging times that women and young girls face on a daily basis just trying to be a woman. May this be a lesson learned that collectively, we will always be stronger, collectively we will inspire change and collectively we shall overcome.