There won’t be any march in Nanaimo this year to mark International Women’s Day, but even if we aren’t gathered together in COVID-19 times, we can be united by the cause.
International Women’s Day on March 8 isn’t just another flowers-and-greeting-card occasion on the calendar. Maybe we can recognize the day more thoughtfully and consider the actions we can take toward gender equality, because we sure haven’t gotten there yet.
The pandemic has brought attention to some of the the shortcomings and failings in our pursuit of equality – domestic violence, for example. A report at the end of November from Women’s Shelters Canada showed that crisis calls increased as quarantine continued, and so too did the severity of violence and abuse against women. Gender-based violence is one of the more difficult topics to talk about on International Women’s Day, but when our society is failing on base-level humaneness, it makes it that much harder to turn our attention to other inequalities.
The pandemic has also crystallized some of the vulnerabilities in our economies and job markets. Statistics Canada’s figures show women have been disproportionately impacted by job losses, both because they’re over-represented in industries harmed by COVID restrictions and also because they have dropped out of the labour force, more so than men, to take care of children. It’s pushed women into poverty.
If we’re willing to acknowledge the inequalities then we can celebrate International Women’s Day for its part in being a potential turning point. The United Nations’ International Women’s Day theme this year is women in leadership, with a call to accelerate the pace of change in diversifying governments around the globe. We can support that cause not only through our votes, but by supporting social change to remove barriers for women to seek and hold leadership positions.
And there are a thousand small ways to show womankind love and respect, whether it be by calling out sexism, amplifying feminism or advocating for progress in fixing the gender wage gap.
When the News Bulletin’s handy wall calendar was printed at the start of this year, we received an e-mail from a wiseacre wanting to know why International Women’s Day was included, but not International Men’s Day. We considered replying something about the other 364 days of the year, but instead settled on International Women’s Day’s greater cultural significance. That was a short answer. This is a longer answer.
Until women have equality, they deserve answers about why it hasn’t happened yet, and more importantly, answers about how we can get there sooner.
The Nanaimo chapter of Canadian Federation of University Women, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, planted a…