International Women’s Day (IWD) is declared by the United Nations and recognized worldwide on March 8 of each year. This year, International Women’s Day is 103 years old.
The theme for IWD 2014 is “Inspiring Change,” and along with inspiring positive change in various areas, this theme encourages advocacy for women’s advancement and advocacy to challenge the status quo to gain women’s equality. Actually, this year’s theme could be the theme for almost any year, since women have continuously worked for change. We have seen evidence over the years of changes in policies, cultural norms, and societal attitudes about women’s equality. However, we know that there is much left to be done on P.E.I., in Canada, and internationally.
One of the challenges facing us is: “How do we best inspire change?” There are various ways to work: as an individual, as a member of a group or organization, or on the political stage (municipal, provincial, or federal). We should not minimize the importance and power of the individual woman — the mother, the teacher, the worker, etc. — and the influence she can have on our children and on our communities. Collectively, as members of groups or organizations, women have a unique opportunity to inspire change by voicing opinions and concerns in numbers. For those that choose to enter the political arena there are numerous ways to inspire change and to make inspiring changes.
Some of us do best on an individual basis as that is our strength, while some of us excel as a member of a group or as a politician. Whatever avenue we choose, we can make a difference. We can inspire change!
On IWD we want to acknowledge the positives and the improvements in human rights and celebrate the journey of women over the years. The history of IWD is rich in stories of courage, perseverance, resistance, change, inspiration, and celebration. However, there is still much to be done on diverse and important issues such as economic equality, striving for equal presence in business and politics, and reproductive justice (especially on P.E.I.) Globally, there is much to do to ensure many women attain basic human rights. Eliminating violence against women and children in many forms requires action at the local and international levels. Here in Canada, attaining answers and justice for the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is imperative.
In 2014 a coalition of P.E.I. women’s groups is sponsoring “A Bold Vision” to select 23 women from across Canada to give us their vision for Canada for the next 150 years. Such will happen in September 2014, and we are proud to be a part of this wonderfully bold initiative which in itself will inspire many visions for change.
On this IWD, let us hope that women’s equality will become a reality and that women’s successes will truly be shared internationally. Here on P.E.I., the members and staff of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women are committed to continuing to work on numerous equality issues and to improving the status of women on P.E.I., which will result in benefits for all Islanders.
As we come together on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2014, we will remember the women who came before us. We will appreciate the achievements, and renew our commitment to “inspire change,” day after day, until equality is attained for all women.
Diane Kays is Chairperson, P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women