Nicole Jennings photo

Nicole Jennings photo

Editorial: fearless females

Working towards equality on a local level can make a big impact

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day.

Women’s rights, feminism, and gender equality, while never disappearing from public consciousness, have been front and centre in recent months.

The 2018 Federal Budget pledged to work towards closing the gender wage gap, legislating pay equity within the public sector, including for federal contract workers.

The #metoo campaign drew (and continues to draw) attention to the 17.7 million women who have reported sexual assault since 1998. Time magazine named the “silence breakers” – those who spoke out against sexual harrassment – their 2017 Person of the Year, after many powerful men were held accountable for their actions as a result of the movement.

And women’s marches have been taking place across the globe in the past year, bringing thousands of supporters together to draw attention to women’s causes.

It might surprise you to learn the first International Women’s Day took place in 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. This was before women had gained the right to vote in Canada (something that followed, in 1916).

The trailblazers that led the movement more than 100 years ago are still celebrated today in events across the world.

Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is #MyFeminism, celebrating the feminists who inspire others to make a difference – whether activists, advocates or allies who lead the way to change.

We may not have a women’s march taking place here in Quesnel, but there are many community leaders and organizations working towards equality for women, men and people of all gender identities. They include teachers, counsellors, the Women’s Resource Centre and Amata Transition House Society, as well as local politicians and business owners.

Empowering females and fostering understanding doesn’t have to happen on a grand stage. It could be a local coach teaching a young charge how to channel her energy into sport, or a manager who supports a female employee in standing up for herself in the workplace.

By working to discard societal stereotypes and actively create safe spaces for female empowerment, our community can help shape the future of our country. For who knows – Canada’s next female prime minister could be sitting in a local classroom right now, needing nothing more than the confidence to realize her potential.

Tomorrow, we encourage you to take a moment to think about what International Women’s Day means to you and to our community, and to celebrate the achievements, big or small, of the women in your life.

Melanie Law

Quesnel Cariboo Observer