Of the world’s current population, 49.6 per cent are female. Additionally, only 39 per cent of women make up the labour force. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) also reported that women are more likely to experience domestic abuse or to be raped, abducted or stalked.
In the fields of political science and international relations, more awareness is being drawn to disproportionate effects of conflict and poverty on women. Awareness is also being raised to highlight the importance of women’s participation in politics not just for equality sake but for the economic and social development of the state. In essence, women face a substantially greater amount of discrimination and oppression than men. The appreciation and support for women and equality around the world is not just important, it is vital to the success of human societies.
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 and is an opportunity to shed light on the hardships and systematic discrimination women face, while also recognizing and appreciating the strength and importance of half the population. When the earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Women’s Day,” was held on February 28, 1909, women around the world were not recognized as essential members of the community; in Canada, they were not even legally recognized as ‘persons’ yet. Now, more than 110 years later, women’s rights and freedoms have improved significantly, but more can be done.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The theme is aligned with United Nations Women’s new multigenerational campaign, called Generation Equality, which marks the 25 year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The declaration is recognized as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere. This year’s Women’s Day is particularly important as the world marks a variety of milestones: the five-year mark towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ and the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment.
There are many ways to get involved and recognize the women of the world. The Canadian Women’s Foundation encourages people to sign an open letter to show their support for women leaders and as a pledge to better support diverse women’s leadership at their workplace. They also provide a poster that individuals can post on their social media and tag them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. The poster, illustrated by Katy Dockrill, is a way to raise awareness and help redefine what leadership looks like. Additionally, people can donate to the Canadian Women’s Foundation that funds programs that help women and girls in Canada move out of violence, out of poverty and into confidence and leadership.
For a fun and memorable experience, individuals can celebrate International Women’s Day with a stand-up and improv show by an award-winning ensemble of women with numerous Canadian Comedy Awards. Tickets for this March 8 event called, ‘Girls night out’, are available at the first Ontario performing arts centre and are going for $35 a ticket or $186 for a table of six.
Individuals interested in signing the open letter by The Canadian Women’s Foundation can visit canadianwomen.org/empower-women-to-lead. To donate or learn more about the foundation and their partners visit canadianwomen.org.