International Women’s Day is March 8. (Stock photo)

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Stock photo)

Editorial: Call out gender inequality on International Women’s Day

Challenges great and small can be magnified for women who are more vulnerable due to inequalities

International Women’s Day is today, March 8, and perhaps it doesn’t seem top of mind as we balance everything going on in our lives, cope with a global pandemic and acknowledge crisis and conflict here and abroad. But all of that should actually underscore the importance of International Women’s Day – challenges great and small are magnified for women who are often more vulnerable because gender inequality is unfortunately a starting point.

The United Nations’ theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.’ The UN says there is recognition that women and girls are “leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response,” but they are comparatively more susceptible to the negative impacts of the climate crisis and the disasters being felt on a warming globe.

“We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers,” said UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, in a statement. “They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world.”

At the same time as we select women to be leaders, we need to also lift up and support the women we are failing to properly protect. Women are facing worsening poverty and violence, says the UN, and modern society shouldn’t accept that.

The UN Foundation launched a new campaign last month, Equal Everywhere, meant to call out gender inequality where it exists and amplify advocacy for positive change.

“Around the world, fierce and fearless champions are breaking barriers and fighting for equality,” said Michelle Milford Morse, vice-president for girls and women strategy at the UN Foundation, in a press release. “But they can’t do it alone. We need everybody, acting in solidarity and pushing for change at every level – from community leaders to parliamentarians to CEOs and everyone in between.”

The Canadian Women’s Foundation reminds us, too, to think about gender justice on International Women’s Day. Fair and livable wages, affordable housing and child care, leadership opportunities and freedom from gender violence should be more attainable for women and girls and trans, non-binary and two-spirit people.

We should celebrate women on International Women’s Day, and love and respect them. And we should recognize where we need to do more and do better to ensure that the girls of today will get to thrive in a more equal world for women.

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