Senator Ratna Omidvar Statement on Leading Visible Minority Women
On May 4th, 2017, Senator Ratna Omidvar welcomed a group of leading women to the Senate and spoke of the significant barriers faced by minority women through a “double-barrelled glass ceiling”. The visiting women are exemplars of leadership in the face of adversary, and beacons for other women, in particular minority girls, to take up their own places in business, academia, corporate life, public service, and in civil society. Listen to Senator Omidvar’s full statement and read the text below.
Visitors: Ritu Bhasin, President, Bhasin Consulting; Doris Chan, Vice-President, Senior Portfolio Manager, TD Wealth Private Investment Counsel; Linda M. Chu, Broker, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Brokerage; Seema Jethalal, Regional Director General, Ontario Region, Canadian Heritage; Denise O’Neil Green, Assistant Vice-President/Vice Provost Equity and Community Inclusion, Ryerson University; Noelle Richardson, Consultant; and Nalini Stewart, Vice-Chair, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.
Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Thank you, honourable senators. I am very pleased to welcome a group of leading women from Toronto. As you can see, they have come from all parts of the world, but they are all proudly Canadian. They also come from all walks of life.
They are leaders in business, academia, corporate life, public service and in civil society. They ascribe to a wide set of political views. If you think our discussions here are far-reaching, you should hear us when we are gathered in a living room in Toronto. But we have some things in common, and I think it’s important to point those out.
First, these women are all leaders and role models for young girls in our society. Second, and perhaps more important, they are all minority women in the majority world, but they have embraced their minority status informally as a group to ensure that other women, especially young girls, are not held back in their ambition.
This matters because we have evidence gathered again and again that your position, income and job security are impacted by the colour of your skin, and that the colour-coded labour market is very much alive and well.
Adding to this, as the divide between men and women exists, so does the divide between minority men and minority women. Minority women earn even less than minority men, so there is a double-barrelled glass ceiling: first your gender and then your race.
With this stark picture, I’m even prouder to welcome this group of women to the chamber, to remind us of what is possible and congratulate them on their leadership. They are on a visit to the Senate, and they were in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee today. I’m sure this visit will enrich their lives as their visit to us enriches our perspectives. Thank you very much.