Today we’re proud to highlight a celebration of women around the world; International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements of women, but it’s also a day to stand up and fight for what we have yet to achieve; equality, for every woman, everywhere.
International Women’s Day as we now know it started back in 1911 in Europe. Over 1 million women and men participated in protests and events that day. In 1977, the United Nations adopted a resolution designating March 8 as International Women’s Day, and many countries including Canada followed suite.
IWD’s intention is as strong today as it was back then. Though huge strides have been made in the fight for equality, every day, all over the world women are still treated as second class citizens. And of course, for Black women, women of colour, women with disabilities, Trans women and gender non-conforming individuals, the level oppression, and the danger that comes simply from trying to exist, increase exponentially. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault than men . Women are more likely to feel unsafe while walking alone at night, simply because of our gender. In the U.S. and even parts of Canada women’s reproductive rights are compromised, and decided upon by men who frankly should have no say in the matter.
When it comes to the working world, women are still paid less than men (less than 70 cents on the dollar right here in Canada, for instance). Women are more likely to compromise on career vs family, and are more likely to be passed over for promotions than men in similar positions. Women make up just 31% of Financial Post 500* board members. (The Financial Post’s ranking of Canada’s largest companies by revenue). That statistic tumbles further when we bring race into the mix. While women have definitely made many advancements since our mothers’ generation, there is still a long way to go, which is why International Women’s Day is still so very necessary.
Today, people everywhere are encouraged to support and raise up women in whatever way they can. Things like supporting female run local businesses, having male partners assisting further with childcare, learning and sharing information about feminism and the fight for gender equality; all these efforts and more are part of how we can all celebrate IWD2021. The goal is to all raise our voices in asking for fair and equitable treatment for women, at work and in life.
Living in North America, I consider myself lucky to be in a place where women are at least not seen as property, where we have the freedom to work and live where we want, and can be who we want to be. But things are far from perfect. The economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, especially women of colour. Whether it’s being forced between work and childcare due to pandemic related restrictions or the impact on women-owned businesses, COVID-19 has reminded us that there is a long road ahead when it comes to equality for women.
So on International Women’s day, do your part to support women all over the world. Give your patronage to female run businesses. Help out around the house and with the family. Highlight the contribution of your female coworkers. Most of all, make a point of showing and telling the women around you that they are valued, and that not only do they deserve equal pay and equal rights, but that they are absolutely entitled to them.
This is no longer a discussion, this is a demand. And today, on International Women’s Day, it’s about damn time that that demand is met.
*Header photo by Ezekixl Akinnewu from Pexels