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Chief Commissioner’s Message, International Women’s Day 2012

March 8, 2012

In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. It remains an important day for reflecting upon and recognizing all women’s past and current struggles and achievements, and the contributions women have made and continue to make to society.

International Women’s Day emerged from the labour movement in Europe and North America during the early twentieth century. Historical events such as the tragic 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where more than 140 women lost their lives due to poor and unsafe working conditions, led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and formation of the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union.

Although working conditions have greatly improved, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission still receives complaints from individuals who experience sexual harassment, discrimination because of pregnancy and other forms of sex discrimination. Twenty percent of all complaints received by the Commission over the past year involved discrimination based on gender.

Importantly, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission promotes and protects the individual dignity, fundamental freedoms and equal rights of Saskatchewan residents. The Commission’s mandate to discourage and eliminate discrimination is derived from the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

We are one human family. These words occur in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. There is much diversity in this family and from that diversity we draw great strength. Every member of this family deserves equal consideration.

Saskatchewan’s proud history of human rights and enduring commitment to building a civil and inclusive society is the foundation which gives life to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. We are excited to be part of this important work and we look forward to continuing to build a province where respect for one another is a defining value of our time. 

Human rights, and the universal respect and responsibility those rights engender, is the foundation on which our communities, our country and our society is built. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has an important role to play, especially in taking human rights to the schools and using education as a tool to create an appreciation of human rights in building a vibrant and respectful society.

Saskatchewan has always been at the forefront of building communities that flourish. Respect for one another, and working toward greater inclusiveness and diversity, is an integral component of every successful community and every successful endeavour. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission will continue the tradition of working toward that vital ideal.