October is Women's History Month
Oct 12, 2013 / 5:00 am
October is Women’s History Month in Canada and it was an honour and a pleasure this past week to host our new Minister for the Status of Women Canada and Minister of Labour, the Honourable Dr. Kellie Leitch.
The portfolios that Minister Leitch is responsible for might sound incompatible but they intersect each other in important ways, especially when it comes to encouraging Canadian women and girls to fully participate and succeed in our economic and democratic life.
The first stop on the Minister’s visit was Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School where she joined students to celebrate International Day of the Girl, held every October 11th, worldwide to promote equal treatment and opportunity for girls in areas such as law, nutrition, health care, and education.
It was an ideal location given that one of the students at Aberdeen Hall is Alaina Podmorow, the founder of Little Women 4 Little Women in Afghanistan and Canada’s first Honourary Youth Ambassador at the United Nations International Day of the Girl.
Dr. Leitch had a lively conversation with the students about the challenges facing girls in today’s society and the importance of education as a means of ensuring their full participation and success in all aspects of Canada’s social, economic and democratic life.
It was a timely discussion. While young women represent a majority of university graduates in Canada and there has been steady growth in their participation in the Canadian labour force, statistics show they remain under-represented in sectors such as the skilled trades and science and technology, representing the largest currently untapped human resource to meet Canada’s occupational needs.
In 2012, women held just 11.8% of construction jobs, 19% of forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas jobs, and 30.5% of agricultural jobs; in the information technology professions, women maintained the same 25% of jobs from 2000 to 2010, despite increasing demands for these skills; in 2007, despite representing 3% of enrolments in the electrical, electronic and related trades, only 1.5% of all graduates from these programs were women; in 2009, women made up only 2.2% of registered apprenticeship completions in the building construction, electrical, industrial and mechanical, metal fabrication, and motor vehicle and heavy equipment trades; and only 6.9% overall work in trades, transport, equipment operations and related occupations.
The need for greater participation in these fields was reiterated at an event I recently attended with business, educational & government leaders hosted by Applied Science Technologies & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC) where only 9% of members are female.
Discussions focussed on girls and the need to capture their interest at a younger age, particularly in the “S.T.E.M.” subjects, science, technology, engineering & math. One participant added an ‘A’ for the arts, noting that creativity is a vital component of innovation creating the “S.T.E.A.M.” needed to move forward.
The Honourable Dr. Leitch heard the same message at Okanagan College, where President Jim Hamilton and his team are putting an emphasis on the continued and increased participation of women in the labour force, particularly in non-traditional fields. Minister Leitch had the chance to speak with Nancy Darling, the head of the Women in Trades program who is doing some great work by successfully getting more young women involved in the trades.
It is also a priority for the Government which understands that in order to achieve our goals of jobs, growth and long-term prosperity women need to succeed in all sectors of our economy.
With the advice of smart, energetic people like the Honourable Dr. Leitch and Western Economic Diversification Minister Michelle Rempel in Cabinet, and initiatives like the recently launched advisory council to promote the participation of women on public and private corporate boards, I have confidence we are making progress.
I want to thank the Honourable Dr. Leitch for paying us a visit and inspiring the young women in our community to see that the sky is the limit and to live the message of this year’s Women’s History Month: Inspiring Change Through Ongoing Leadership.
As a father of three daughters, husband to a working spouse, and a member of this community, I know just how much we owe to the women in our lives - in business, education, social services and the arts - for their leadership and the contributions they make to our communities and Canadian society.
They are a beacon for all that is possible.
The Honourable Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected]. Information on local announcements and federal government programs can be found at www.cannan.ca. More information about the history and events celebrating Women’s History Month can be found at www.women.gc.ca.
Read more MP Report articles
- WINNs of Change Nov 16
- Saving the Line Oct 26
- October is Women's History Month Oct 12
- Tax savings for seniors Sep 28
- School tax relief for students Aug 31
- New option for Old Age Security Aug 3
- Plain language labelling Jul 20
- Keeping history alive Jul 6
(Click for RSS instructions.)