International Women’s Day – March 8, 2021

March 8 is International Women’s Day. The day has existed for over a century. It brings together people and organizations around the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, while calling for greater gender equality and an end to gender-based violence. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge

“We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”

We’ve Come A Long Way Baby – but we still have a way to go!

As I look back on my work life, and those in my personal life circle, I have been surrounded by incredible, smart, empowered women. Successful scientists, artists, senior executives, teachers and caring nurses. In my lifetime I have seen the first Canadian female Supreme Court Justice (Bertha Wilson, 1975), Astronaut (Dr. Roberta Bondar, 1992), Prime Minister (Kim Campbell, 1993) and 13 Canadian female Premiers.

Fortunately, we live in a democratic nation which values equality, freedom and respect for all individuals in society; women here do have opportunities that are not afforded to them in other countries.

In my “privileged white world” it seems that great progress has been made. But is that true?

Today women and girls make up more than 50 per cent of the world’s population, yet they are more likely to be affected by poverty and violence, food insecurity and lack of access to education, health care and safe, affordable housing.

Women in the workforce still tend to earn less than men. Women are still underrepresented in politics, business and on executive boards, and women from indigenous and minority communities are even less likely to hold senior leadership positions in these fields.

When it comes to assessing the state of women’s rights in Canada, it seems fair to both note the progress made to date, while acknowledging there’s still a long way to go.

We still have missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

We still have a large gender wage gap (On average, women earned 13.3% less per hour, or $0.87 for every dollar earned by men in 2018).

We still have alarming levels of gender-based violence (women have a 20% higher risk of being victimized than men).

A fight for gender equality requires recognition, collaboration, allyship and community. We all have a lot of learning and unlearning to do.

Repeat after me: It’s Humankind, not Mankind. An equal world is a better world for all of us. When equality grows, communities are healthier, businesses are stronger, economies rise – and the world is a better place for everyone.

So, on International Women’s Day raise your hand high to show you're in and that you commit to “choose to challenge” and call out inequality.

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