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N.B. women say pay equity, abortion rights, poverty their focus this International Women’s Day

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Shouting and displaying messages of frustration, over 100 people marched through downtown Fredericton Friday afternoon to mark International Women’s Day.

The group included pay equity, abortion rights and poverty groups, who say the day is a chance to remind decision-makers what still needs to be done to make the playing field equal.

“It's really important that we don't sit down, that we don't sit back, that we don't take any of the rights or advantages that we've had in the past for granted,” said Krysta Cowling, chair of the N.B. Coalition for Pay Equity. “And because, yes, we have seen that when we take a step forward, we are taking steps back as well.”

Janelle LeBlanc, provincial coordinator for the Common Front for Social Justice, reminds it’s an election year in N.B., and these are the issues most important for her.

“We've seen the last two years cost of living has been increasing. It's had really bad consequences on working and living conditions for New Brunswickers, but especially women and gender diverse folks,” she said.

For Lauren Murdock, pay equity is an issue she lives with everyday.

“I work in the science sector and I'm still not getting paid what most men in the science sector are getting paid,” she said. “It’s frustrating.”

Murdock is a mom of two, and she encouraged her children to create their own signs in support of women. Her son, Avery Bringlow, came up with “Girls can do everything.”

“I'd like them to understand that everything we do is for them and so they don't have to face the same struggles, especially now that I have a daughter as well,” Murdock said. “I also want to raise my son to respect women for who they are and what they can offer, and not just for their gender.”

While many acknowledge the triumphs that have been made over the last few decades, some feel that lately there have been setbacks.

“It's quite scary to live in a world like that where you don't really know if your rights are going to be protected as a woman and if you will have the same access to certain things as other people have,” said Elise Pelletier.

There are improvements, including the number of women on parliament hill.

“There are more women going into politics, even with the backlash against them and the cyberbullying that goes on,” said Mount Saint Vincent University women’s studies professor Meredith Ralston.

Around 30 per cent of Canadian MP’s are women, and 50 per cent of the senate.

That ranks the country 56th in the world, in terms of its share of female politicians, according to Statistics Canada.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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