This year the theme for International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. It’s kind of sad that in 2018, we still have to have this type of theme to try to gain gender parity. But it’s a fact, there just isn’t the same ratio of women to men in decision-making roles, politics, STEM, etc. There just isn’t.
Now is the time to make a difference, to start finding ways to support other women to get into those positions. Women and allies need to do more than have the conversations at this point. Last year I think the #BeBold theme really initiated a lot of conversations and a movement as did a lot of the things happening around the world. This year, let’s rally together, take those conversations to the next level, and make things happen.
This year is an election year for us, meaning we have the chance to make some changes this year. What better way to do so than to get out, help women campaign, spark the interest in other women, rally with them, and VOTE. There are so many ways women can be leaders in the community other than being in politics but being educated is a great start and voting is even better. If you learned anything from the YW’s Niagara Leadership Summit for Women’s 2017 Breaking Barriers conference, we have the support, the interest, and the ability to help make Niagara stronger, better, and move towards gender parity.
If you go onto the International Women’s Day website, you can see all of the ways you can #PressforProgress and I have to say, it’s worth the read. Here’s the main examples:
All of these options are doable and meaningful. I believe that International Women’s Day really sets the tone for the year and this year we can make even more progress than the last year, and the year before that. I challenge everyone to pick a way (or multiple ways) that they will #PressforProgress. Let us know which action you choose by tagging us #ywca_niagara. Let’s #PressforProgress together!
Personally this year my action is “Forge positive visibility of Women,” what’s yours?
This article, written by Laura Ip first appeared in the St. Catharines Standard on Friday, March 17, 2017.
As a vocal feminist in Niagara, one of the things I hear repeatedly is that women need to do more to help other women; women need to stop saying and doing awful things to each other.
Frankly, whilst I consider this to be one of the less troublesome things in the quest for equality, I do agree that it is a problem. Again, one of the smaller ones, but a problem nevertheless.
When I began my career, I immediately found that women a generation ahead of me were difficult to collaborate with, especially if they were suspicious of my ambition. I have never gone into a job thinking that I would or even could take the job of someone who was my manager or who might otherwise be a mentor to me, but this suspicion persisted. Too often, I heard friends and colleagues say, “She’s threatened by you.”
As I have continued in the career world, even with the turns my own career has taken, I am now hearing women a generation behind me say similar things. They talk about women who are further into their careers or who are in leadership positions not wanting to help them. I know how frustrating this can be and how isolating it can feel, so I have made a commitment to myself and to women around me to take women with me.
I have a colleague who, through her position at YWCA Niagara Region, has just taken her first career-related job. My job and hers overlap quite considerably and she is eager to learn not just about all that we do at the YW, but also about the communications and fundraising roles. I take her to meetings, I encourage her to bounce ideas around with me and I try to introduce her to other community members who might be of assistance to her when her contract with us is up. She likely could do my job, but I don’t see her as a threat.
There is another young woman who I have met through community projects that I work on who has an interest in getting involved in politics. Though I never won an election, I learned a lot during three campaigns, particularly as the only woman running in a ward twice. She and I discuss what she might encounter and how to deal with it, as well as various municipal issues and what she might consider doing once she starts to campaign.
In keeping with the Be Bold for Change theme of International Women’s Day, I will continue to ensure that I do what I can to take other women with me.
What will you do to take other women with you?
And, men, this isn’t just for the women to do. You can help as well. What will you do to ensure that women are being seen and heard and have opportunities to participate the way their male counterparts are participating?
You might consider taking a junior woman to a sales meeting and not tasking her with taking notes. When you see an all-male panel for an event, suggest the organizers add a woman you know has the expertise. If a female colleague is speaking in a meeting and someone interrupts her, say, “I’d really like to hear more about what Sarah was saying.”
These are easy things all of us can do to close the gender gap in our workplaces and the wider community. It’s easy to bring women with us.
I am very lucky to have so many strong, amazing and empowering female friends. We have had many discussions about how we don’t really feel affected by gender inequality because we grew up feeling equal to men and we have always been very independent. I have one amazing friend, Kelsey, who ended up becoming a tool and die maker, and is one of the only women not in an administrative role at the company she works for. She’s been featured in newspapers and magazines about her success in the field, and is a role model for other women to start a career in the trades. Our friend group always jokes about her success and badassness (that’s a word), and her ability to do, well, anything. She had graduated 2 different programs with honours and awards by the time most of us had graduated university. When we were talking about International Women’s Day/Month at the last Blogger’s Meeting, I immediately knew I wanted to interview her about her journey in the tool and dye field.
Amazingly, she had been asked to instantly fly down to South Carolina to do some work at another factory. She was working non-stop down there and still found the time to answer these questions for me, so thank you!
D: So what the heck do you do for a living?
K: I am a red seal certified tool and die maker, I work for a company that builds the dies for many different companies such as Ford, GM, BMW, Mercedes etc. I work as a lead hand delegating jobs, fixing issues with the dies, making sure we meet the customers’ timelines, and provide a die that will make a dimensionally and cosmetically correct car part. My company often builds dies that produce more complicated parts and the ones consumers actually see, such as the body side, tailgate, and doors. Tool and die is a hard trade to describe to people, but there’s my attempt explaining it in one sentence.
D: Well you did a pretty good job at explaining it, in my opinion. Did you always want to be a tool and die maker, or what did you want to be when you grew up, as a child?
K: I remember as a child saying I wanted to be a veterinarian, often a popular choice with kids who like cats and dogs but I never obsessed over a certain career.
D: So what did you do after high school?
K: In high school I used the co-op placement to work at a bakery, and that experience helped me decide to go to George Brown College for Baking and Pastries Arts. I remember in grade 11, really having no idea what I wanted to do but knowing university wasn’t right for me, so I picked baking as a career path.
D: [Sidenote: Kelsey then became the friend we would force to make cakes for us when we had a party or holiday coming up.] So what made you want to change careers?
K: I found the culinary trade relies heavily on your passion for the work, and often the desire to open your own business. I enjoyed baking but you work long days, often really early mornings, and you have to work holidays. I never really got a chance to enjoy my time off, or get time off to begin with. I knew I would never open my own bakery and I felt the job would never allow me to be financially independent. All the job postings I was seeing for bakers were often lower paying with no benefits. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.
D: Okay, so you decided you wanted to do something different. What made you think of a tool and die worker?
K: I decided I didn’t want a career as a pastry chef, but I also didn’t know what I should do instead. My father works in the trades as an insulator and said he thought I would make a good millwright. That made me start looking into millwrights and possible schooling options. I discovered the Centre for Skilled Trades and Development in Burlington. They offered a Millwright/Tool and Die Pre-Apprenticeship Program affiliated with a company that would hire you depending on how the training goes. The program was also only 6 months, which was great because I wouldn’t have to take a long break from working full time. Based on the schooling, I decided I would become a tool and die maker (not a millwright) and was hired as an apprentice. I continued my training for 3 more years by going to Sheridan College one day a week while continuing to work. It was great because I wasn’t racking up any student debt (my tuition was only $400 a year) and received government grants from companies supporting the skilled trades.
D: What was your very first day on the job like?
K: The first day was extremely over whelming! No amount of classroom training can prepare you for, what looks like, such a chaotic environment. A production plant is fast paced with many moving elements. I could feel that eyes were on me. To make things worse, I didn’t have a proper work uniform yet so I felt really self-conscious walking around in my jeans since they are more form fitting than regular uniform pants.
D: Were you scared at all to work in a mostly male-dominated industry?
K: I feel like scared is the wrong term. I think I was just as nervous as anyone would be starting a new job, regardless of gender. I had no idea if and how I would be accepted. I honestly believe the men I worked with were just as nervous and worried that they might say something wrong or inappropriate to me. For the first couple months, I don’t think I had a genuine conversation or joked around with any of my coworkers. The conversation was often super formal or just filler talk about the job. It definitely became easier to bond with my coworkers when I got a new job at a different company that had more employees closer to my age.
It sometimes feels like high school, except I somehow ended up in the boys’ locker room.
D: What are you most proud of during your time in the tool and die industry?
K: My current role as a lead hand has come with a lot of responsibility, stress, and a strong feeling of pride. I am one of very few female tool and die makers and it’s even rarer for one to take on a supervisor type position. It is the most stressful and challenging job I have ever had, and that just proves to me what a smart decision I made with this career path.
D: What are some funny or crazy stories that you can share with us?
K: I have been in a fair share of strange, awkward, and funny situations at work; most times it becomes a good story to tell my friends and sometimes it’s something that really pisses me off. I can share that the men’s washroom is covered with graffiti and inappropriate writing on the walls. When a co-worker told me about that I was so confused because they were all working adults, I just didn’t get it. There was also a time when a mystery person was drawing penises all over the factory, and it got so bad that management had to get involved and start checking security cameras. It was so embarrassingly unprofessional and they never figured out who it was.
I remember at the first place I worked, there was this one line worker that wouldn’t stop asking me out. The first time he asked me, I politely said “no sorry, I have a boyfriend.” But he would still always ask to take me out to dinner! I would walk a different way around the shop to avoid him because it was always such an uncomfortable conversation. Eventually he quit or was fired, so I didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Now, if anyone asks me out I just immediately shut it down. I have worked at my current company for so long everyone knows me and that I’m married and it’s not a situation I face anymore.
Other than that type of thing, every now and then at the lunch table someone will be looking at their phone and they start laughing and pass the phone around to the other guys at the table. Then they stop and realize I am also at the table and they don’t know if they should pass the phone to me or not. I guess they don’t want to take the chance of potentially offending me. It sometimes feels like high school, except I somehow ended up in the boys’ locker room.
More recently, I found myself working down in the States fixing issues an assembly plant had with the dies we built them. The plant manager would go and talk to one of the guys who was down there working with me and asked him for timelines and the progress of the job. My co-worker paused and proceeded to point at me and say “I don’t know, go ask my boss.” Honestly, I find nothing really phases me any more. I really enjoy my job and the work environment. The job is awesome; not just the work and the financial benefits, but all the entertaining stories I get to tell my friends.
D: Tell me about one of your biggest accomplishments, or something you are most proud of.
K: I have had a lot of success in my career, (considering I have only been working in this industry for 6 years) and I am already a lead hand at my company. But, I am the proudest of the fact that I am able to inspire other woman to work in the trades, and breakdown the preconceived beliefs about women working in this industry. Volunteering with Skills Ontario and talking to high school girls about the many career options out there brings me great pride. I have had a couple different women tell me that my career story gave them motivation to pursue a future in the trades.
D: What does your husband think about your profession?
When we were first dating and I told him I was quitting the bakery to go back to school for a tool and die maker, he was confused. Mostly because he had no idea what a tool and die maker was, and secondly because he didn’t want me to stop making delicious cookies. Now that he gets what I do every day, he is really impressed and proud of what I have been able to accomplish. However, sometimes he can get frustrated with the amount of hours I work. There are times when I will work 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week and get home and immediately pass out on the couch. We have talked about balancing work and life, and how there will be times when I have to work those long days, or randomly go to the States for three weeks for a job. He knows how important my job is to me, and he’s the person I confide in when I had a bad day, when nothing goes right, and when I’m questioning my abilities. My career has also been beneficial to him: he doesn’t have to be the sole breadwinner in our household, and was able to take a lower paying position with better options for advancement because I could support us.
D: Thank you, Kelsey! You can add this blog post to your wall of newspaper and magazine articles about how amazing you are!
I had the privilege and pleasure of attending multiple International Women’s Day Events throughout the region. I wish I could have attended them all. I can’t even describe the empowerment I felt while being surrounded by incredible, strong, brave, bold, and passionate women.
The keynote speaker was Teresa Cascioli. I was thrilled to be able to hear her speak. I was torn between typing out all of the impactful things she was saying so I could tweet them, or just soaking up the moment and letting her words really resonate with me. I did a mixture and I’m still not sure which one would have been the best option.
Teresa said, “Prior to selling my business no one listened.” It was as though Teresa’s voice didn’t matter because she had yet to have a great accomplishment. She then asked the important questions and you could hear the room nod in agreement: “Why do women have to say it more often? Why do we have to say it louder? Why do we have to prove ourselves?”
One of the most important and reoccurring messages throughout the event was you have to be impatient for results.
The WIN council also presented Rosemary Hale with the International Women’s Day Award. I was so excited to hear her speech, I couldn’t even consider recording any notes. I watched as Rosemary accepted the award with grace and honour. She inspired us all with talk about her past being the first female dean at Brock University. She is now retired and loving it as she has time to be a strong advocate for arts, volunteer at Hospice Niagara, and continuing to write. When she brought into focus her mentor Nora who said, “Life is drama. Every minute of our lives is drama…a slice of drama.” The idea that drama can be a good thing and not just with an arts background. Taking to the Be Bold For Change theme, Rosemary emphasized just how important it is to start demanding results, and start demanding change. To really do something about what you are passionate about in order to make a difference. “It’s about loving your bold, showing your bold.”
Broadband’s 25thAnniversary Performance ofWomen in Music Benefit Concertfor the YWCA Niagara Region happened this past Sunday.The event is to celebrate International Women’s day focusing on Women in Music.
It was amazing! Listening to the inspirational songs including one about Nellie McClung. If you’re interested in catching a little taste of what the music was like, check it outhere. The positive and empowering vibes from the band and the attendees was refreshing. Hearing reflections of the past made me want to do more research and spend time thinking about women in our history who really have made a difference for us.
Thursday was actually International Women’s Day. I attended the Be Bold For Change eventwhich happened atGwen’s Teas. Although I showed up late and missed networking with some other attendees, I really enjoyed the event. It was nice to see people have an outlet to write down how they would be bold for change and why they identify as feminists. Everyone brought their own thoughts, opinions, and reasons for being there. The discussion around politics was insightful. It just clarified all the more how important it is to involve women in politics. These discussions are exactly why we need more events, more meetings, more conversation around what women really can do.
All of these events opened my eyes to so many things. They made me really think. “It’s about showing your bold,” ran through my mind for days. That’s when I realize, being bold isn’t just about what is outlined on the International Women’s Day website (although those are great pledges), it’s about finding what works for you. I did make the pledge to celebrate women’s achievements because I think successes need to be acknowledged. I still stand by that pledge. Earlier this year, I also made a promise to have my voice heard in ablog postfor the Practical Feminist after the Women’s March in January. But now, after all of these events, I pledge to find my bold and use it to help women.
My daughter asked me to write a blog post on why I participated in the Women’s March organized by the YWCA here in Niagara, which was in tandem with hundreds of marches around the world on January 21st.
While I talked about standing in solidarity with my American sisters, I want her to know I did it for her, I did it for the other women in our family, especially for my granddaughters.
Especially for my granddaughters.
I did it especially for my granddaughters because I don’t want them to experience the blatant discrimination I often experienced while growing up in the 70’s and on through the last forty years. I don’t want them to ever second guess their ability and how it measures up to a man. I want them to grow up feeling 100% equal to any man, period.
You would think that in the forty years since the second, third and fourth waves of feminism have gone past we would have seen real change… and yet we haven’t. There have seen small changes, girls and boys are able to compete against each other in sports, although we still have to make strides for women and men to compete against each other. There are men who take a more nurturing role in parenthood…at least in my circle of friends and family I’ve seen a more equal division of tasks. In Canada, women have choices when it comes to their body and whether she chooses to keep a baby or not, although for many in the United States this choice has been taken away or made much more difficult to access.
These changes are small and aren’t enough. Men still earn more money than women, even if they are doing the same job. Men still are promoted at a much faster rate than women. Men still don’t take on half of the family duties, leaving the majority of the household chores and child rearing duties to their female spouses. Men still feel it’s ok to tell a woman what to do with her body. Men still think women are able to give consent when they are passed out drunk.
The lack of change on these issues are often blamed on women for not standing up for themselves and speaking up about it. There are some women who blame other women for this lack of change instead of all of us looking at the systemic changes that need to happen. And for that, we need men to shut up and listen, and that may take some time.
I marched with millions of women because I want the women in my family, and all young women for that matter, to be able to stand up tall, to not question themselves, to love freely and to be unconventional. I don’t want my granddaughters to define themselves through traditional values, unless of course, they choose to themselves. I want to ensure that women’s equality progresses to the point where we can actually say we are truly equal, and I want to be around long enough to see this happen, for my daughter, my daughter in laws, and especially for my granddaughters. Because it is about time.
“Because it is about time.”
We have talked about equality for a long time. Generations of women and men have talked about it and I am getting a little impatient, especially for my granddaughters. (I used to say for my daughter, but I’ve given up on the notion that it will happen for her.)
I marched because I don’t want to see hard won fights regress. I marched because I wanted to wake up the silent majority, to make sure women’s issues are taken seriously. I march because I don’t want my granddaughters to ever be devalued by experiencing discrimination in any way.
This year’s International Women’s Day is Wednesday, March 8th, 2017. This day started in 1908 when 15, 000 women gathered to march in New York City with demands to have shorter working hours, increased wages, and the right to vote. It has since been “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” (International Women’s Day website). The history around this day is incredible. You can find out more here.
But what is it all about this year? The theme for 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. What does that mean? You get to decided that for yourself. We may each have a different view of what needs to be changed and how to go about it. Even the website has a variety of ways we can create change for women. Through the website you can pledge how you will strive to be bold for change this year. The main points are:
I’ll change bias and inequality
I’ll campaign against violence
I’ll forge women’s advancement
I’ll celebrate women’s achievement
I’ll champion women’s education
Luckily, there are a few events that are happening in the Niagara region to celebrate women on this amazing day.
Broadband’s 25th Anniversary Performance of Women in Music Benefit Concert for the YWCA Niagara Region is happening on Sunday, March 5th from 4-7 pm at St. John’s Activity Centre. This event is to celebrate International Women’s day focusing on Women in Music. Tickets are $20 dollars with proceeds going toward the YWCA Niagara Region.
On the actual day, March 8th, Be Bold For Change event is happening at Gwen’s Teas. This will be a more affordable event happening in the evening to ensure that it is accessible to a variety of people. A $5 donation to the YWCA Niagara Region is encouraged. The focus will be on how attendees will #BeBoldForChange to close the gender gap.
If there are any events you are aware of that are not posted, please tell us! You can also let us know how you feel they went if you were able to attend one.
Tell us how you will #BeBoldForChange by tagging us on Twitter @YWCA_Niagara
So, who do I think is the “most influential” feminist? I can’t give just one answer or perhaps an answer to that question at all. I can say that any list I came up with would reflect my particular feminist politics and my knowledge as well as my ignorance. I can also say the thousands of women who pushed boundaries, risked their lives, and braved (and still brave, as the struggle continues) ridicule and persecution while pressing for political and social equality, are the “influential feminists”. I know many who have influenced me, but perhaps just as important are the many who are largely unsung, who by their words and actions—the way they have lived and are living their lives—have changed the culture and made my life with its rights and freedoms possible. Some of them are women I know or have known and who have helped raise me up and shape me: my familial forebears and contemporaries, and my friends, co-workers and bosses. All that said, I’m partial to the writing of bell hooks, and authors Marguerite Duras, Margaret Atwood, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.
I owe a debt to many protofeminists who had the courage to live their lives the way they wanted to, as well as the leaders and worker bees of various feminist movements. I’m impressed by the the new feminist thought leaders such as Pussy Riot, the women who organized Idle No More, and all the women who took part in the Women’s March on Jan 21. Who do I think is the most influential feminist? How about all of them?
As a Women’s and Gender Studies student, I have come to realize that feminism is a very broad movement and to define an influential feminist as being more influential than others is by no means an easy task. As we are in the third, going into the fourth wave – i.e. the various stages of feminism – we are starting to look at intersectionality, where an individual’s various identities affect their experiences.
When we think of an influential feminist, we look at woman like Betty Friedan, bell hooks (her name is purposely not capitalized), or Kim Anderson. However, each one focuses on something different in their activism and literature because their lived experiences are all different. The experiences of a white, black, or indigenous women can’t be generalized as being the same regardless of the fact that they’re all woman because race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, etc. all play a role in their individual lives and how they look and experience the world.
However, to understand where feminists first appeared, who in my opinion have always existed, just feminism itself became a more mainstream movement, would be when women wanted the right to vote. In Canada, white women were allowed to vote in 1918, but this was only those whose husbands served in the war and it wasn’t until 1960 that Indigenous women were allowed to vote. THAT’S 42 YEARS LATER! Now it’s been 57 years since all women in Canada have been allowed to vote. That isn’t a long time when you look at the grand scheme of things.
The start to this RIGHT as we know it now as a Canadian citizen, started with only upper-middle class white women, who had a lot of time on their hands. They were known as the suffragettes and they were the “First Wavers” but to say they were the most influential feminists would be wrong. To identify a singular individual as being more influential in the movement in my opinion is a bad way to look at feminism because it assumes that one person is the face of all that is feminism but they are not.
To look at feminism is not to look at one individual or one particular group, because there isn’t one type of woman or one type of feminism. The suffragettes or the women in the Women’s Liberation Group, were all influential because without them fighting tooth and nail, women would not have the rights that they do today. I, in all honesty, can’t really give you an influential feminist because feminism itself is a growing process and no one person helped to make the movement what it is.
“We want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization.” -Emily Murphy, 1931
Today our Bloggers answer questions about women we look up to; in our families, in our community, or internationally. Bloggers were asked to answer three of the following questions:
1. What is the definition of a strong woman to you?
2. Who are your women role models, and why?
3. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
4. In your opinion, what are the qualities a woman must possess to be a good leader?
5. Favourite actress or songstress and why?
6. If you could impart words of wisdom to the next generation of young women that would encourage them to support each other – what would you say?
7. Finish this sentence. My wish for a young girl growing up in society today would be for her to _______________________.
What is the definition of a strong woman to you?
I think a strong woman is a woman who knows who she is and does not change for any thing or any body. She is confident in herself and her thoughts. She is always willing to learn. She knows her worth and sees the importance of encouraging her female peers to see theirs.
What makes a woman a good leader?
I believe that all women are leaders. However, I think the best leaders are those women who are aware of their identity and are always willing to learn from their surroundings.
My wish for a young girl growing up in society today would be for her to:
Know who she is, accept change and grow, listen to the advice of strong women around you.
What is the definition of a strong woman to you?
What a tricky question because strength can mean so many things. Most of the women I would characterize as strong have a few things in common: they do what they have to do to survive and get through life; they can make difficult decisions and challenge themselves, and they are flexible— admitting that they don’t know everything. I don’t think that strong women are unafraid. I think they use their fear as a challenge, or an inevitability (like jumping into cold water) but that they are adaptable and get on with things.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, definitely. No question. I believe in equality and in resisting (and thus seeking to change) the dominant discourses that reinforce social, political, and economic inequality. I believe in challenging oppression and confronting privilege—the most difficult of course, being my own privilege. But equality isn’t a simple concept. What it means and how it is achieved is a point of argument among everyone who believes in it. It makes me sad to hear women, particularly young women, rejecting feminism or seeing it as no longer relevant. It also makes me sad to hear men rejecting (or belittling) feminism as if it isn’t something that improves everyone’s lives. I mean, wouldn’t it be simpler to say you just don’t care about equality and that you benefit from not caring? I think some people assume feminism to be monolithic and that there is only “one” feminism ( like Sauron’s “one ring to rule them all”). Some women are practicing feminism in their daily lives but yet won’t identify themselves as feminists. I see feminism as a spectrum, much like the political spectrum or a gender spectrum. I may not agree with all the tenets of one particular feminist theory, but I would never reject feminism as a whole or believe that feminism isn’t relevant.
In your opinion, what are the qualities a woman must possess to be a good leader?
I think all good leaders are good listeners and can inspire people. I don’t mean leadership inspiration through the hack use of “coach phrases” but in letting the people you are leading know that you need them as much as they need you. In my life, the best leaders have been people who actually took the time to ask questions and get to know the people they were leading. With this information, they were able to call upon people they were leading as “experts” in times of need or when they need the force of a group to get something done. They make people feel inspired, important, and valuable and not like they are tools for the leader’s (life and monetary) goals. Good leaders don’t assume they know everything—they lead from the front and from the the back.
What is the definition of a strong woman to you? I guess that answer is almost indefinable for me. Is she mentally/emotionally or physically strong? Is she the only woman in a sea of men- leading them as their Executive? Is she a stay at home mom, a working mom barely getting through each month, a single mom with a great job? Is she fearless or content to quietly live her life the way she likes it? Does she love her job, or work it just to pay the bills? Is she gracious and kind, or strong minded and not afraid to say no? Is she single and loving it or married and loving it—or hating it? Does she take what life throws at her and throw it back…or take the hit and keep on going? Is she a woman, living her life in whatever capacity that means to her? Then I guess any and all things that a woman goes through in life can be the thing I would use to define her as strong.
Favorite actress or songstress and why?
I would have to say Jennifer Lawrence is currently my favorite female actress. She laughs at herself, stands up for herself, and is a good role model for younger girls.
Finish this sentence: My wish for a young girl growing up in society today would be for her to:
Be kind to others, but above all—be kind to yourself. And listen to these words below:
What did you do on International Women’s Day? Well, if you’re looking for ideas for next year, take a look at this great list compiled by Seeds and Stitches!
We particularly love #6 and #10!
#6: Join in with the Craftivist Collective footprint making. Stitch a thought, quotation or lyric onto a printed fabric footprint and either keep it for yourself to remind you to stay on the right path, or give it to someone to encourage them to be their best selves and leave a positive mark on the planet. You can even leave your footprint in a public place where members of the general public will spot it.
#10: Make a vat of popcorn and watch a film that passes The Bechdel Film Test with your daughter (if you have one) or friends and talk about the female protagonist and what you liked about her.
Our theme for March is all about International Women’s Day; we hope to simultaneously celebrate women’s accomplishments, but take a look at the work we still need to do for equality. You may think that in North America Feminism’s work is done, but Susan Douglas makes some very compelling arguments to the contrary! Read it for yourself on Sunday!
Women today are inundated with conflicting messages from the mass media: they must either be strong leaders in complete command or sex kittens obsessed with finding and pleasing a man. In Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas, one of America’s most entertaining and insightful cultural critics, takes readers on a spirited journey through the television programs, popular songs, movies, and news coverage of recent years, telling a story that is nothing less than the cultural biography of a new generation of American women.
Revisiting cultural touchstones from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Survivor to Desperate Housewives, Douglas uses wit and wisdom to expose these images of women as mere fantasies of female power, assuring women and girls that the battle for equality has been won, so there’s nothing wrong with resurrecting sexist stereotypes–all in good fun, of course. She shows that these portrayals not only distract us from the real-world challenges facing women today but also drive a wedge between baby-boom women and their “millennial” daughters.
In seeking to bridge this generation gap, Douglas makes the case for casting aside these retrograde messages, showing us how to decode the mixed messages that restrict the ambitions of women of all ages. And what makes Enlightened Sexism such a pleasure to read is Douglas’s unique voice, as she blends humor with insight and offers an empathetic and sisterly guide to the images so many women love and hate with equal measure.
International Women’s Day celebrates women from all over the world. The logo is purple and white, and features the symbol of Venus. Venus is a symbol itself for female.
International Women’s Day is a global celebration that focuses on the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Various women, political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and celebrities, are usually invited to speak at various events on this day. Events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or banquets.
Events are held worldwide.
In some countries Women’s Day is a national holiday:
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Eritrea, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia
We celebrate this day because it is a time to keep past women’s achievements alive, recognize challenges, and focus attention on women’s rights and gender equality to inspire all people to join in, and do their part.
If we all think globally and act locally we can make a difference. It is important to do your bit to ensure a equal, safe and enriching future for women and girls.
Sunday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. Every year I struggle with whether the day is one to celebrate, or a moment to take stock and think about how much needs to change around the world for women to achieve equality. Yes, here in North America, we have come a long way. But we would be naive to think that Feminism’s work is finished even here. Internationally, in countries like India, Pakistan, and Somalia, things are far, far worse for women. It seems to me that to celebrate a truly international women’s day would be to do a disservice to the women still living in danger throughout the world. Perhaps, the thing to take away from Sunday would be not celebration, but hope for change.
The 2015 theme of International Women’s Day is Make it Happen; socially, financially, professionally, let’s make equality happen for women everywhere. As the saying goes, We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby…but there’s a lot of work to be done. Click here for ways to get involved with International Women’s Day here in Canada.
What are your thoughts on International Women’s Day? Do you think that awareness events like it, or Black History Month work to celebrate an achievement, or do they make us stop and think how far we still need to go?
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”– Gloria Steinem
International Women’s Day isn’t widely celebrated in Canada, unlike Mother’s Day. Perhaps it is best that Hallmark has yet to capitalize on it. Despite its political origins, some people who do celebrate International Women’s Day simply want to show their appreciation for the special women in their lives. International Women’s Day started over a century ago as a day of political protest — demanding suffrage for women and better working conditions. For me, as a feminist, it’s a day to celebrate women’s accomplishments, and recognize the struggles of the women who have suffered and sacrificed to promote women’s human rights here in Canada and around the world. It’s also a day to identify the work still do be done.
Gloria Steinem: Why do you do what you do?
But why do we need International Women’s Day? After all, isn’t women’s equality guaranteed under the law in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the International Declaration of Human Rights? Beverley Joan Oda, former Minister of the Status of Women stated, “Canada’s new government fundamentally believes that women are equal.” Status of Women Canada even removed the word “equality” from their statement of purpose in 2006. If women in Canada already have achieved “equality,” does International Women’s Day really need to be politicized?
Despite the rhetoric of our federal government, women’s equality is being compromised in Canada. In 1996, the United Nations ranked Canada number one in terms of gender equality. By 2010/2011, we had slipped to 18th place. Today the attacks on women’s human rights continue.
The advancement of women’s human rights in Canada was largely due to the advocacy of women’s groups, who pushed women’s issues to the table of Canadian politicians. But advocacy takes money. In the 1990s, government funding was made available to groups seeking to “advance equality for women by addressing women’s economic, social, political and legal situation.” Since then, funding guidelines have been changed so that organizations engaged in advocacy, lobbying, or research work became ineligible for funding. Cuts have eliminated 12 out of 16 regional offices of Status of Women, the National Council of Welfare, and the Centres of Excellence in Women’s Health. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, which was almost 100 percent funded by the government, had its entire funding cut. We have been regressing — making it more difficult for women’s advocacy groups to organize and be heard when important decisions are being made by governments.
For me, International Women’s Day is an important day because women are vulnerable. As a feminist and sometimes fiercely independent woman, I don’t want anyone to think I’m suggesting women aren’t strong. To me, vulnerability has nothing to do with how strong you are, but rather how powerful others are. As a woman, I am vulnerable to the decisions made by my federal, provincial, and local government. Policies and legislation regarding labour rights, pension, immigration, health care, child care, taxation, social services, education, pay equity, housing and food security, poverty, and violence against women, are in the hands of others. I am vulnerable to the power given to police and courts, and even vulnerable to the views and opinions of fellow Canadians, including my family and my neighbours. I am vulnerable to the systems of our society that grant privilege and power to certain people and marginalize and oppress others.
Although I am vulnerable as one woman, I can gain power through joining with others who believe in women’s human rights. I can seek safety in knowing that there are people (both women and men) who continue to push for women’s equality despite the pressures working against them. I can let my voice be heard and help others to understand the implications of decisions made by our government. I can be an agent of change by joining in. I am fearful of the future when I see the direction we are heading with regards to human rights in Canada, but rather than allowing my fear to stop me, it fuels me to advocate and work for positive change. What will you do to recognize International Women’s Day?
Written by: Carolyn Fish, YWCA Niagara Region’s Board President. Carolyn has lived most of her life in the Niagara Peninsula and has an excellent grasp of the challenges that women and children experience in our community. She has a Masters in Social Work degree from Carleton University and a Bachelors degree in Women’s Studies and History from Queen’s University and currently works as a Domestic Violence Program Coordinator for the Family Counseling Centre in St. Catharines. Carolyn has a strong commitment to social justice and is active in promoting human rights in Niagara.