International Women’s Day is marked every year on March 8. Born during the early struggles for women’s equality, International Women’s Day has served two primary purposes through the years. It is both a celebration of the achievements and contributions of women and a reminder of the need for continued work to maintain and extend equality rights. Gradually the emphasis has shifted more to the first goal, and today the celebration has become a truly global day of recognition, spanning both the developed and developing worlds.
Certainly, Canadian women have much to celebrate. Equality is enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Women participate in higher education in greater numbers than men do, while women’s presence in the labour force continues to grow. We should not make the mistake, however, of thinking we have achieved complete equality. A growing gender wage gap, high rates of poverty and violence, particularly among First Nations women, and inadequate representation of women in government underline the fact that there is still much to do.
Neither should we think that our achievements are unassailable. In recent years, governments have taken several actions that undermine women’s equality, including the scrapping of a national childcare program, the removal of the right to pay equity for federal public sector workers, the de-funding of women’s advocacy groups, as well as the closure of the majority of Canada’s Status of Women offices. Current governments across Canada are taking action to roll back women’s reproductive rights.
Perhaps the time has come for Canadian women to return to the second goal of International Women’s Day and take action, both to protect our achievements and to extend equality benefits to those women in Canada who do not currently enjoy them. The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachForEqual and is built on the idea that individual beliefs, conversations and actions can have a positive impact on our larger society.
International Women’s Day events will take place in many communities across Ontario. Here are a few of the publicized events:
- Collingwood—panel discussion and networking social on Simcoe Street 2–4 p.m.
- International Women’s Day Gala at Hart House 5 p.m.
- Eat for Equal (March 6) 240 Richmond Street 8 a.m.
- Women Empowering Women Forum, 192 Spadina Avenue 2 p.m.
- IWD Celebration, Toronto City Hall, 1 p.m.
- G(irls) 20 Leadership Forum (March 7), 44 Gerrard Street East 9 a.m.
- Guelph/Wellington—(March 5) at the Grand Guelph, 340 Woodlawn 4 p.m.
- Niagara (March 6)—IWD with Autumn Peltier, Fallsview Resort, 2:30 p.m.
- London—IWD Breakfast and Auction (March 6), 300 York Street, 7 a.m.
- North Bay—IWD with Dr Robyne Hanley-Dafoe (March 9), 192 Main Street East 10:30 a.m.
- Peterborough—IWD Peterborough Golf and Country Club (March 6) 12 p.m.
- Trenton—Quinte International Women’s Day (March 5), Trent Port Marina 5 p.m.
- Hamilton—Hamilton Plaza Hotel 150 King Street East 1 p.m.
- Halton Hills—IWD Party Mold-Masters Sportsplex—5 p.m.
- Penatanguishene—IWD Penetanguishene Public Library (March 5) 10:30 a.m.