If we ever truly achieve gender balance, then International Women’s Day won’t feel like it’s the one exception to 364 days of the year when the balance is off.
International Women’s Day is today, March 8, and one of the global themes being presented this year is ‘Balance for Better.’ We’re asked to think about what gender balance means and how we can accelerate gender parity and equal rights.
The United Nations and Status of Women Canada have adopted a different theme for the day, ‘Innovate for Change,’ identifying a “digital divide” that is resulting in women being under-represented in science, technology, engineering and math. The UN notes in a press release that it’s the right time to take advantage of opportunity, as “social innovations have the potential of providing unprecedented solutions” for lifting up women and empowering them.
Whether we look at more broad or more specific issues, we’ll probably come to some of the same conclusions: we haven’t achieved balance and we can certainly do more to create the conditions for balance. Obviously, it will take continued societal shifts and political will. We need more women in political office and in corporate boardrooms, but making that happen will require quite separate dedication from efforts to eliminate gender-based violence, for example. A goal of gender balance can seem daunting when it carries so many different interpretations at once, but on the other hand, it means that if we can put energy into identifying and addressing some imbalance that we see, we can be change makers.
Sometimes it seems like we’re moving closer to a society that expects gender balance and notices when we fall short. On International Women’s Day, let’s try to do better at celebrating balance we see and criticizing imbalance, both for the women we love, and for the ones we haven’t met yet, who deserve to set out on equal footing.