For Immediate Release
March 6, 2020
Check Against Delivery

Mayor Crombie made the following speech at her fourth annual Mayor’s International Women’s Day Breakfast. 

Good morning, and welcome to my fourth annual International Women’s Day breakfast!

We have nearly 200 women (and a few men) here this morning which is the largest turn out we have ever had!

Let me begin by thanking the teachers, staff and parents for ensuring all these vibrant, inspiring and remarkable young women could join us this morning.

I only wish we had more room to invite more people!

Today is all about networking, getting to know one another and brainstorming some of the big ideas that will bring about positive, bold change in Mississauga and beyond.

I want everyone to know that this is an open and inclusive environment…

I want you to feel empowered to be open, honest and speak your mind while of course, being thoughtful and respectful of others.

If you haven’t already, I’m going to ask that everyone please quickly go around your table and introduce yourselves to your tablemates.

I want to mention that we also have several dignitaries, community leaders and mentors joining us today.

There are simply too many to announce but I’d like to single out:

  • Our keynote speaker: Samra Zafar and her daughter Saarah
  • Councillors: Stephen Dasko, Karen Ras, Ron Starr, Pat Saito,
  • Our City Manager Janice Baker and several of her Commissioners, Directors and senior staff
  • MP Iqra Khalid and MPP Nina Tangri
  • Chair Nando Iannicca.
  • Several senior leaders from Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services, Peel Region, Peel Public Health, Peel Police and both the Dufferin Peel and Catholic School Boards.
  • Trustees Sharon Hobin, Nokha Dakroub, Susan Benjamin, Luz Del Rosario, student trustees Sheanna Jesudhason and Kenisha Arora and Marianne Mazzorato, Director of Education for Dufferin-Peel;
  • Last but not least, members of the Mississauga Youth Advisory Council, many of who helped make this morning a success. Please stand up to be recognized.

I also want to acknowledge all of the community leaders who have taken time to meet and participate in today’s event.

Please stand up to and give us a wave.

Many of you are getting ready to take the next big step in your academic careers…

I’m sure you hear this all the time from your parents and your teachers but I really cannot stress enough the importance of earning a good education – especially for young women.

The competitive edge you gain in college or university or in the trades will help lay the foundation for a bright and promising future…

Whether you want to be a scientist, engineer, public servant, an electrician a firefighter, or Mayor…or you just don’t know yet, that’s okay too!

I know it can be scary and there are a lot of unknowns, but I promise you, it will not only make you smarter but better-rounded, worldly and will put you on the path to success.

Simply put – higher education opens doors.

It’s your passport to success and prosperity.

I know that our guest speaker Samra will echo that sentiment in just a few minutes…

I will be the first to admit, being a woman, especially in politics, isn’t easy.

I believe as women we can have it all, but not necessarily always at the same time.

Achieving equity isn’t always an easy thing.

Whether that’s at school, in the workplace…

Or at home, which is a struggle I hear from young women every year I host this breakfast.

While we are one of the most diverse cities in the world, I recognize that women’s rights aren’t necessarily as progressive in other countries as they are here in Canada.

Sometimes it’s as if you are living in two worlds… and it’s difficult to not only make sense of it all but to bridge that gap.

To feel comfortable not only pursuing leadership roles in school or at the workplace but feeling accepted and encouraged to do so.

As any child of an immigrant family knows, on one hand, we want to fit in with our friends and be accepted at our school, but at the same time, we respect our roots and want to make our parents proud because we know how much they sacrificed so that we could have a bright and promising future.

I also know that sometimes, the promise of freedom and equality here in Canada isn’t always the lived experience for many women.

Our guest speaker, Samra, will be sharing her personal, harrowing story of adversity and how she overcame abuse, isolation and oppression and ultimately broke free from an abusive, arranged marriage…

She pursued higher education, graduated top of her class, found peace, success and created a new life for her children here in Mississauga.

This year’s theme “Each for Equal” challenges us to look deep inside of ourselves and identify what actions we can take in our daily lives, no matter how small or big, to challenge stereotypes, fight prejudice and push the envelope.

An equal world is an enabled world.

Today and every day, we must look deep inside ourselves and ask to what actions we can take as individuals to help strike the right balance at home and at work, while tackling some of the big issues that are preventing us from achieving true equality including equal pay for equal work, discriminatory hiring practices and sexism in the workplace.

Balance aside, there are still women here at home and around the world who are struggling for basic human rights.

One issue that is deeply unsettling to me and that is happening in our own backyard is human trafficking.

Girls as young as 13 are being lured online on various social platforms and are being exploited through violence, coercion, drugs and gangs.

This is something that we are working closely with police, the Region and community organizations to tackle but need to send a strong message to the world that our girls are not for sale.

This issue deeply impacts teenage girls and the unfortunate reality is that it is happening right here in Mississauga.

I want each and every one of you to know that your teachers, principals, elected officials, community leaders and Peel Police are here if you anytime you need us.

If you yourself are a victim, are worried about a friend or you just want to know more about the warning signs, we are here for you…

Our doors are always open…

On a more positive note and before I introduce our guest speaker, I want to leave you with a few pieces of advice.

Always be the first to raise your hand.

Never accept that you cannot do something simply because you’re a woman.

Always push the envelope.

Take calculated risks, volunteer, lean in.

Put in the extra hours because there are no shortcuts to success.

Have the courage to put your name in the hat or on the ballot.

Follow your passions and trust your gut.

Don’t be afraid to ask for that well-deserved promotion.

Work with, not against one another.

Use social media to advance our collective agenda as women, not to hold each other back.

Only by working together and lifting each other up, will we tip the scales in our favour.

During your group discussions, you will be asked to answer one question:

What actions can we take to motivate friends, colleagues and whole communities to build a gender-balanced world in our boardrooms, government, media, sports, etc.?  

I know we all look forward to hearing from you.

Now, I’d like to introduce our guest speaker who also happens to be my friend and former Mississauga resident.

She is an award-winning international speaker and bestselling author of the book “A Good Wife,” which has won critical acclaim.

Her story of silence and abuse is one that is unfortunately all too familiar to women here at home and around the world.

She is one of the most resilient and positive people I know and her story has inspired thousands of women across the world to break their silence and break free from abuse.

Today, Samra is not simply surviving, she is thriving.

This is her story, in her words.

I won’t say anything more.

I ask that you please join me in welcoming my friend, the inspirational and one and only Samra Zafar to the stage.”