People are entering relationships which are not based on the traditional view of marriage and the family. Some men and women choose not to marry at all, others marry later in life, some find a series of relationships rather than a single lifelong commitment. Indeed, our definition of the family is expanding to include friends, colleagues, kinfolk, and the community. Some of us have decided not to have children of our own but rather to seek joy in the children of our extended families. Some choose marriage without children; more recently, others have preferred children without marriage.
In the same way, our economic opportunities have multiplied. In the past, the choice of women was primarily limited to being homemakers financially supported by a husband, who in turn sought a full-time job that would last for his working life. Our opportunities for greater freedom of choice, as well as economic reality, have allowed many of us to seek the direction which is most appropriate to our own needs and desires. Growing numbers of women are entering and remaining in the paid labour force and, in fact, women will be the major source of growth in the labour force in the rest of the century. Those of us in the world of paid work, both men and women, are redefining the nature of work and our attachment to it. We are seeking to strike a balance among our commitments to our jobs, our families, and our community. Thus we look forward to more part-time work, variable hours, mobility among both jobs and careers, a burgeoning small business sector, more valuing of women's unpaid work, and greater expectations for men's contributions within the home.
In making these choices, we as individuals cherish the same values that give our nation its vitality. We too aspire to be autonomous, economically, socially, and personally. Examples of the importance which we place on achieving our objective of independence were the coming together of women from across the country in February 1981, the subsequent lobbying in all provinces and territories, for the enshrinement of equality in our Constitution, and the addition of Section 28 to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in November of the same year.
At the same time, we reach out to others for a sense of belonging, to family, friends, organizations, community, and our country. We want to be able to exercise our independence within an infrastructure which is caring, nurturing, and sharing for individuals and the groups to which they belong. In this regard, we have seen a proliferation of support groups such as the Alzheimer's Society, Empathy House, and Parents without Partners, which provide a sense of caring extending beyond the nuclear family.
We are striving to discover and assert our self-identity and to be true to that sense of self, both within ourselves and with others. As part of our personal and national growth, all of us need apportunities to expend Knowledge and develop our skills and to apply what we have learned in every aspect of our lives. In record numbers, people are returning to universities and community colleges to upgrade their skills and knowledge and to prepare themselves to participate fully in the paid labour force, the reality for most of their adult lives.
One of the major social movements of the post-war period has been the women's movement, which is based in large part on the values enunciated in this paper. Arising out of this movement has been a growing desire by women for financial autonomy, reflected in the fact that, by 1980, 62% of married women held jobs outside the home. It is estimated that a young woman entering the labour force today will be there on average only four years less than her male counterpart. It is expected that two-thirds of new entrants to the labour market in this decade will be women, particularly mature women who are or have been married and who are often mothers. Economic independence has become a need as well as a desire for most women.
Women are also insisting on belonging, and being seen to belong, to the community at large. We have already mentioned women's efforts to ensure that the new Constitution reflects our part in Canadian society. The current Parliament has more female members, and more female Cabinet Ministers, than at any time in our history. While the numbers are not proportional to our representation among the electorate, nonetheless they are being to reflect our commitments to making Canadian politics serve all Canadians, women as well as men.