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OPINION: Achieving true equality

Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women’s Network P.E.I. suggests companies avail themselves of the services of gender experts to navigate the dynamics of workplace interactions in a post-#MeToo world.

(The Guardian/Mitch MacDonald)
Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women’s Network P.E.I. suggests companies avail themselves of the services of gender experts to navigate the dynamics of workplace interactions in a post-#MeToo world. (The Guardian/Mitch MacDonald) - The Guardian

International Women’s Day celebrates contributions in global community

BY YVONNE DEAGLE

GUEST OPINION

As we come together to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 today (March 8), let us be reminded of the many achievements that women have accomplished as we strive to meet our full potential.

We recognize the many ways women contribute to creativity and success in our global community, yet IWD is a day that slips by with little acknowledgement in Canada.

The year 2017 brought forward the #MeToo movement, which brought solidarity with women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted. The #MeToo movement was initiated by American activist Tarana Burke more than a decade ago, and has gathered strength from celebrities speaking out about sexual harassment in their lives.

All over the world women and men are refusing to be shamed and silenced any longer. The time has come for gender equality in homes and workplaces. The time has come for women to be who they are and love whom they choose. The time has come for women to be free from violence and harassment.

We know that violence does not discriminate. We also know that just being a woman means overcoming countless obstacles daily. We live in sexist societies, but living in poverty, or with racism, or without access to basic human rights expands the likelihood of abuse and mistreatment.

So today, especially, we say #HerToo. We take a broader look around the world at the realities women face and know that we have a long way to go to achieving true equality.

From the Global Citizen Website, here are some facts that show why we need to think about #HerToo – why we need greater equality now:

In 2015, there were only 21 female heads of state in the entire world.

Over 150 countries have at least one actively sexist law.

Each minute, 28 girls are married before they are ready.

At least 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.

In most countries, women only earn between 60% and 75 per cent of men’s wages, for the same work.

There are approximately 781 million adults worldwide lacking literacy – and two-thirds of them are women.

Around the world, 63 million girls still need to go to school.

Today, on International Women’s Day, let us celebrate our successes as women, and let us also use our power to raise up the voices of women around the world fighting to be safe, free and thriving citizens.

- Yvonne Deagle is chairperson, P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She read this commentary today at an International Women's Day event on P.E.I.

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