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Consider for a moment the women that you know. We may not have the obligatory cloak or requisite bodysuit worn by your archetypal superhero. We come in a myriad of colours, ages, abilities and ethnicities. We are all different in shape and size, and our personalities are as individual as our fingerprints. We are not perfect, but each and every one of us is a superhero. Superheroes from comic books serve two roles: they have their career by day, and by night they play at being a superhero. In their secret identities, they set about saving us from ourselves and from nefarious villains while proclaiming their good deeds for all to see.
In comparison, behind the veil of inequality, women are often labouring unseen and unacknowledged. There are many roles that women perform in our daily lives with far less drama and hubris than our comic-book contemporaries. We don’t need to wear a costume in order to claim recognition for all that we do. We are the unsung superheroes, and on March 8, 2021, International Women’s Day, I “Choose to Challenge” you to recognize the superheroes in your life.
We all know women of whom I speak. They are the matriarch in our households, the backbone of our communities, and the doyenne in their chosen profession. They are the tireless person supporting others, working a second shift and meeting everyone’s needs before their own. They are the trauma survivor who shouts loudly for justice or quietly advocates to prevent others from coming to harm. This year, International Women’s Day will be different, and while we cannot come together to celebrate the superheroes in our lives, many events are being planned in our communities that offer us the opportunity to participate in #iwdpei.
P.E.I. may be Canada’s smallest province, but we are home to an abundance of superheroes. On this Island we are fortunate to call home, women are organizing and leading the push for change. We are excelling in previously male-dominated fields. Women are keeping us safe in the midst of a global pandemic; working industriously in not-for-profits, charities and advocacy groups; creating safe spaces for those in need; educating, caring and shoring up the frontline. And my BIPOC sisters and all the women with intersecting identities, who have to fight longer and harder to make space where we can thrive, we are doing it, and we are doing it together! Quite simply, women are doing everything that is needed of us and more. Women are superheroes.
When I think of the women who have blazed a trail before me inspiring me to greater efforts, the peers who I am fortunate to work alongside each day, and the generations of women coming up through the ranks, fearless in their endeavours and unapologetic in their fight for change, I am reassured that our future is in safe hands. In this, my final op-ed as chairperson of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women before my maximum term ends, I would like to give credit to my personal superheroes — the mums, daughters, friends, authors, educators, staff, and members of the advisory council, leaders of women’s organizations and support groups, civil servants and ministers that I have had the privilege to work with, in my role on the council.
For the rest of 2021, I challenge myself to recognize and acknowledge the superheroes in my life, and I “Choose to Challenge” you to do the same.
Debbie Langston is the outgoing chairperson for the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.