International Women's Day Message
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
On International Women's Day, the AJC recognizes and celebrates the incredible achievements and contributions of women to the legal profession.
Since Clara Brett Martin became the first woman to be called to the bar in Canada in 1899, women have made great strides in the legal profession. Today, 49.5% of Ontario lawyers are women, and in some Canadian law school cohorts, women now outnumber men.
Along the way lawyers like Bertha Wilson, Canada’s first female Supreme Court Justice, and Corrine Sparks, the first Black female Judge in Canada, have broken down barriers and paved the way for future generations of female legal professionals. From advocating for gender equality and reproductive rights, to fighting for social justice and human rights, women lawyers have played a crucial role in advancing the cause of justice and ensuring that the rule of law is upheld.
However, it must be acknowledged that considerable work remains to be done. Women, especially transgender, Black, Indigenous, and racialized women, and women with disabilities continue to face discrimination and bias in the workplace and the legal profession.
The barriers to women’s full advancement in the profession came into sharp focus during the pandemic where women disproportionately faced the burden of family care responsibilities due to school and daycare closures, and eldercare needs. The AJC’s advocacy in areas such as 699 leave and the Common Hybrid Work Model seek, among a number of goals, to address these inequalities.
Our members also benefit from the extraordinary dedication of multiple employee driven committees and networks that seek to improve the working conditions of women in the workplace. In this vein, the AJC encourages our members to complete the questionnaire prepared by The Advisory Committee on Women at Justice (ACWJ) regarding the experiences of women at Justice during the COVID-19 pandemic and the return to the office (RTO).
On this International Women's Day, the AJC stands beside our members to advance gender equality in the legal profession and beyond. Let us continue to support and empower women, and work towards a future where gender does not constrain one's opportunities or experiences in the legal profession.
Thank you for your continued dedication to the legal profession, and for your commitment to creating a more just and equitable society.
David McNairn, AJC President