Letter to the Future from the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women

Dear future leaders,

I was eleven years old when I arrived in Canada as a refugee. Driven by the desire for a better life, my mother brought my sisters and I to a new home, in Peterborough, Ontario. And in doing so, my mother taught me an important lesson: that with commitment and hard work, things can get better. That we don’t have to tolerate injustice, endure discrimination or accept a lack of opportunity. That we must never settle for good enough. That positive change is always possible, especially when we work together to make things better for all of us who call Canada home.

Everything I do as Minister of Status of Women is based on the idea that a better world is not just possible, but necessary, and achievable.

Status of Women Canada has been working toward gender equality for 41 years, and in that time, much has been achieved. Canadians are protected from discrimination on the basis of their gender in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and women have made enormous strides in education and the workforce. It is easy to fall into complacency after so much hard-won
progress, but we must guard against this. We must always strive for more. Gender equality is – and has always been – a work in progress. And we are not there yet.

As I write this, in 2017, Status of Women Canada has just launched a project to empower women leaders and support the Canadian women’s movement. We also released ..It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.” These are investments for the future. They represent our conviction that gender-based violence can be eradicated and that gender equality must be achieved, as well as our commitment to the work required to get there.

We have everything we need to make this happen. We have the talents of amazing Canadians who refuse to let gender determine their strengths or successes. We have the power that comes from connecting diverse experiences, resulting in a massive potential for positive change and innovation. We have a government that’s committed to gender equality. We also have the world’s attention and a unique opportunity to lead the quest for gender equality globally.

Fifteen years from now, I want to look back and say that yes, these initiatives were important steps toward better, more equitable lives for all Canadians. In one hundred and fifty years, I want future Canadians to be able to say that our country led the way to a more just, peaceful and prosperous world. My hope is that Canadians will one day look back with amazement and wonder at the notion that it was ever any other way.

As Canadians, diversity has always been our strength and it is from that strength that we will build an even stronger, more unified and successful country. I’ve learned that for our efforts to be effective we need to work across cultures, across sectors, and across generations. I’ve learned that for our efforts to be sustainable, we have to work with men and boys. Our work will be made easier if we can come together and rely on the power of stories to teach, heal, and mark progress. We won’t stop until we achieve gender equality for all Canadians. This is the future I envision, and it is what I hope is reality for any of you who read this letter in the future.

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.