International Women’s Day March 8, 2021 #ChoosetoChallenge
On Monday, March 8, we will celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate all women who have played an extraordinary role in their countries and communities.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is Choose to Challenge. It reminds us that a challenged world is a world that’s paying attention. Individually, we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. We can all help create an inclusive world.
No country has achieved gender equality yet, including Canada.
Globally, 2.7 billion women still can’t access the same choice of jobs as men. On average, women still earn 23% less than men for the same work. As of 2019, less than 25 per cent of elected representatives were women. One in three women still experience gender-based violence. Many women don’t have basic health care or access to birth control. 800 women a day die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The pandemic is shining a harsh light on the persistent inequities that women have faced historically. In the last year, violence against women has increased drastically worldwide, with women being confined more to their homes with less access to their regular social supports. Because caregivers in the home and the workforce are still disproportionately female, women have borne more of the burden of Covid-19. The additional demand on our local Food Banks is a sign that many women are struggling just to feed their kids.
However, right here in Ottawa, we are seeing some tangible signs of change. As Ottawa’s first Council Liaison for Women and Gender Equity, here are some things I’m proud of:
- It is now expected at City Hall that a Gender Equity Lens will be applied when any important strategic decisions are made for our city. This is being demonstrated in the development of our draft new Official Plan, and our Community Safety and Well Being Plan.
- This year we will release Ottawa’s first Women and Gender Equity Strategy, a roadmap for full inclusion here at City Hall
- We have come through a very challenging year. A big part of the reason that we are doing as well as we are is due to the exemplary leadership and calm determination of one very strong woman, Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health.
In addition to the Mayor’s International Women’s Day Celebration on March 8, starting at 8:00 am, on Rogers TV, and the City’s YouTube channel, I invite you to also please join me for a virtual IWD gathering for Bay Ward at 6:30 pm. You’ll hear about some of the ways that women right here in Bay Ward are challenging the barriers that keep women from reaching their full potential. Come and be inspired with us.