In the last year, the world has witnessed an incredible rise of the female voice through campaigns like #Metoo and the Time’s Up Movement making this year’s International Women’s Day of special significance.
Although this day is a platform to further advance the cause of these campaigns, women around the world are protesting and holding marches to shed light on various causes important to women. For example, Spain is witnessing its first feminist strike with hundreds of women protesting on the street and refusing to do household chores or spend money.
Considering the momentum women have built up in the last year to have their voices heard, this year’s official International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is #PressforProgress.
“…with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.
“So we can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity,” states the International Women’s Day website, acknowledging the importance of recent movements.
International Women’s Day was first honoured, in a handful of countries, in 1911. More than a century later, issues of gender equality have still not been fully resolved.
In Canada, Status of Women Canada has designated #MyFeminism as this year’s theme for IWD “inspired by the role feminism continues to play in shaping Canada and countries around the world.”
Here at home, according to the statistics, only 21.6 per cent of leadership roles in Financial Post 500 companies are women, only 26 per cent of parliamentarians are women and women earn still earn less than men. According to Status of Women Canada, women are 20 per cent more likely to become victims of violence and women still account for 87 per cent of victims of sexual offences and 76 per cent of victims of criminal harassment.
Taking part in IWD in some way, whether even just through social media, can help change this reality, according to the IWD campaign.
Events were held across the country in major cities to celebrate the women of our community and call attention to the issues that affect them.
The military is also doing its part to honour IWD and events and activities were planned at different bases throughout Canada. Many Military Family Resource Centres are hosting luncheons, including Trenton, Suffield, and Gander. Others are hosting information sessions for women of the military community.
Additionally, the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, issued the following statement, “Today, on International Women’s Day, we honour and celebrate the outstanding contributions of women in Canada, and consider next steps in advancing gender equality both in Canada and throughout the world.
“Our women and men in uniform lead by example. The Canadian Armed Forces is proud to be a military force that recognizes the importance of diversity in overall mission success, and Canada is proud to be one of the first nations to allow women to serve in all military occupations.
“Today, women serve as equals and leaders on military operations, and play an instrumental role in their success. Our women in uniform are role models not only for our future generations here in Canada, but for the countries around the world in which they serve.
“We are grateful to our women in uniform, and we are committed to cultivating a gender-inclusive environment where everyone is welcomed, supported and respected. We will continue to work to increase gender representation across all trades and ranks.
“Throughout our history, Canadian women have made our country and our military stronger through military and public service. We remember those women who, in their time, were ‘the first’ or ‘the only one,’ and we are inspired by their legacy as we make progress towards advancing gender equality.
“We can always do better, and we will. We invite all Canadians to join us in empowering women and girls in our communities, not just on this International Women’s Day, but on every day of the year.”