As I’m sure you’ve heard countless times today, March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to commemorate the activists and movements that championed and still strive for women’s rights all around the world. From fighting for the right to vote (in stages, because I know full well that it wasn’t (and still isn’t) an immediately equitable process anywhere in the world), to campaigning for the rights of domestic workers and striving for equal pay for equal work, women have a history of seeing injustice and organizing to fight for their rights. It started before First Wave Feminism, and it will continue passed today’s “Wave,” but it’s amazing to see just how many people around the world are willing to join in the movement today. People came out in record breaking numbers to attend Women’s Marches worldwide. Though it’s as contentious a word as ever, most of the people I know call themselves feminists. People are realizing that the Future is Female and that women’s voices are integral in a progressive society.
This week, the University of Calgary hosted a four-day conference called Women In Work, celebrating and encouraging diversity in the workplace. Today was the third day, and as much as I enjoyed and learned a lot from the perspectives and knowledge shared through the workshops, speakers and panels on the first two days, I feel as though I got the most out of today’s last event. It was a panel: Women in Leadership. There were differing views and disagreements, and people from multiple backgrounds and career paths. They had unique perspectives on what makes a good leader, but they all seemed to agree on the value of diversity, integrity, collaboration, respect, and kindness. If that is what a world with more women in the workplace looks like, I’m 100% for it.
There are certainly struggles that women have yet to overcome, in the workplace and outside, but we are making strides. I’ve been hearing examples all week of how that is happening in the workplace, and I’m inspired to work harder to contribute to those efforts outside. This generation can be so informed it’s both impressive and intimidating. Intersectionality is a key element in feminist discourse, and I see it considered in most of the discussions I come across, which is encouraging. After all, if feminism is equality, we better mean it. There is no wrong way to be a woman, there is no right way to suffer inequality, and there is no human being that should be worth more than any other. I really do believe that we are headed in the right direction to achieve that level of inclusion, respect and equality. I don’t know how long it will take, but I think we can get there.
I have always been proud to be female. I have had amazing women in my life to look up to, and I have phenomenal women that I have the privilege of working and walking alongside now. They have all contributed to who I am today and they continue to shape my life for the better. My mother has always told me that I can be anything I want to be in life, and that if I work hard, stick to my values, and set my mind, there is nothing I cannot achieve.
Whether you’re more Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Coco Chanel, Laverne Cox, Yuna Kim, Malala Yousafzai, Nellie Bly or Elle Woods, today is for women like you. Today is for women like all of us, whoever you are.
Here’s to strong women:
May we know them,
May we be them,
May we raise them.
Happy International Women’s Day.