We are women, who come from a long line of beautiful, courageous women. We also come from a history of oppression, discrimination, violence, and fighting for equality.
International Women’s Day started in 1910, when several independent women’s movements marched for the right to vote and to improve the horrible working conditions women experienced.
These passionate women came together to create International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s accomplishments and to reflect on change still needed to make the world a better place for women.
Women’s rights have come a long way. As a 20-something Canadian woman, I can go to school, get a degree, own a house, have an amazing career, start a family, play sports, fight for justice, fall in love with whoever I want to, and be happy. For this, I am filled with gratitude.
However, our work is not over. Women’s inequality is still very real, even if it is woven seamlessly into our modern lives. While the impacts of discrimination are highly personal, the source of inequality is often systemic.
It is in the inequality that allows women to make 13 per cent less than men at the same job, the 41 million girls worldwide who are not allowed an education, that up to 70% of people in poverty are women, and that among women age 15-44, violence causes more death and disability than war, cancer, malaria, and traffic accidents.
It is in the death of Inuk student, Loretta Saunders, murdered in Nova Scotia, while completing her thesis on the 600 missing and/or murdered aboriginal women in Canada. It is in the one billion women who will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
Rise up. Inspire change. Regardless of your gender, celebrate International Women’s Day by celebrating our progress, reflecting on future action, and inspiring change.
An often-used quote by Gandhi is “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
This International Women’s Day, challenge yourself to not only be the change, but to inspire the change you want to see in the world.
We have so many reasons to celebrate the women in our lives. What will you do to celebrate International Women’s Day, Saturday, March 8th?