Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it! #MakeItHappen
The first Women’s Day emerged in 1908, when the International Ladies' Garment Workers' went on strike, and women workers protested against labour exploitation and gender inequality. International Women’s Day has now been transformed into an international celebration of women's economic, political, and social achievements.
On March 8th of every year, women, men and children celebrate International Women's Day.
Each year, the United Nations designates a theme to celebrate human rights with the vision to eliminate women's struggles worldwide. This year's theme is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it! with the social media hashtag #MakeItHappen. Inspired and guided by the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the campaign invites people globally to imagine a world in which gender equality has become a reality—a world in which women and girls can exercise freedoms and choices and realize rights such as to be free from violence and to earn equal pay for work of equal value. The campaign aims to galvanize action to overcome existing gaps.
In 2014, we saw considerable progress in support of women’s equality. The Provincial Women's Committee loudly applauded proposed changes to the Ontario Sexual Education curriculum which would teach children about the root causes of gender inequality and violence, and promote greater understanding of healthy relationships and consent. Women in New Brunswick have galvanized support and successfully won the repeal of Regulation 84-20 — a regulation that effectively defunded abortion and restricted women’s access to reproductive health services in the province.
In the “Are you Up for Debate?” campaign, activists are currently asking our federal leaders to debate women's issues such as taking action to end violence, to increase women’s access to economic opportunities through affordable housing and childcare and fair immigration policies, and to recognize the fundamental role women play in bringing about positive social change. Ordinary women are pushing back against a culture that accepts and enables sexual harassment and violence. Prominent celebrities are wearing the title “Feminist” proudly.
However, as far as we have journeyed, our vision is far from realized. The organized backlash to the feminist movement and activism in the name of men's rights, is gravely concerning. Some of our federal leaders are dismissive towards the federal debate on women's issues. In certain geographical areas, women still have no access to safe and dignified reproductive health care. A culture of sexual harassment and rape continues to proliferate. Racialized, Aboriginal, Immigrant and Trans women continue to face unprecedented levels of violence, greater levels of unemployment and precarious employment, and lack of access to education, health and other social services.
According to Aboriginal, Metis and First Nations organizations across Canada, more than 1,200 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered since 1980. In a recent interview, Prime Minister Harper stated that " it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest … Federal ministers will continue to dialogue with those who are concerned about this."
Recent legislation enacted by the Federal government, Bill C-36, also engenders violence against sex workers and recreates the harms experienced by sex workers under previous laws that criminalized prostitution. The Bill not only isolates, criminalizes and denies sex workers basic rights and freedoms but disproportionately targets Black, Indigenous, Migrant, Trans women and street-based sex workers.
Despite our continuing struggles, we cannot lose our vision of a world where women can stand beside men as dignified, respected and empowered persons. To lose hope is to lose heart and we are greater and stronger when we fight for change.
It is possible. It is achievable. Let's #MakeItHappen
Angela Bick Rossley, Chair
Provincial Women's Committee
International Women's Day Events around the Province:
Please join PWC in celebrating the achievements of women in the workplace, in the community and at home by attending these IWD events:
IWD Toronto Events:
- Mary Spratt Breakfast http://opseu.org/event/toronto-international-womens-day-march-7-breakfast
- IWD March and Rally: http://opseu.org/event/toronto-iwd-discussion-march-and-rally
- IWD Fair: http://opseu.org/event/toronto-iwd-fair
IWD Ottawa Events:
IWD Hamilton: Norma Berti Breakfast:
IWD Thunder Bay: