International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and girls. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality and acknowledging that, while progress has been made, there is still much more to do.
International Women’s Day became official in March 1911 with the support of over one million people who demanded the realization of women’s rights.
Today, we celebrate all women in our lives. We celebrate the legacy of those women who have gone before us, whether feted or anonymous, who have contributed so much to the strength and spirit of our communities. We honour all women in our communities today who work tirelessly, at home, at work, as volunteers, leaders and caregivers. We celebrate every woman’s contributions and strengths.
Typically, at this time of year, we would be putting the finishing touches on our plans for our annual Bread and Roses Gala. This year however, our local celebrations look dramatically different. COVID-19 is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced.
In recognition of the way this pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, this year’s national theme is #FeministRecovery. This theme recognizes that Covid-19 is a gendered crisis and that the pandemic has seriously eroded hard fought gains towards equality.
Today, we acknowledge and celebrate the many women who have persevered throughout this pandemic, those juggling working from home with supporting children’s online learning, caring for younger siblings and supporting who are isolated, ill or elderly.
We acknowledge and celebrate the many women working in essential services, going to work each day, putting their own health at risk, often while managing other challenges such as child care, health and family issues. We acknowledge and support all those women for whom home is not a safe haven.
According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 10 Canadian women are “very or extremely concerned” about the possibility of violence inside the home during the pandemic. We acknowledge and support the many women who have faced massive layoffs and reduction in income. RBC Economics is reporting that women’s labour market participation in Canada has dropped to levels not seen since the 1980s. Today, we recognize, support and celebrate all women.
To quote Economist Armine Yalnizyan, “There will be no economic recovery without a she-covery.” As we recover from this pandemic, we echo the hopes of many that we will not simply return to normal, but use this an opportunity to create a “better normal”- one where women and other marginalized populations not only survive, but thrive.