Let’s reflect on the progress we’ve made towards achieving gender equality and equity
By Paula De Jesus, Programs Manager and Cidalia Pereira, Violence Against Women Team Lead at Abrigo Centre | March 8 , 2023
International Women’s Day (IWD) is March 8 and across the world, celebrations and events will give us all an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve collectively made towards achieving gender equality and equity. It will also reveal how far we still need to go to ensure equity and inclusion across the board.
The international theme this year for IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. The words equality and equity are often intermingled. Here’s a quick look at the difference. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
If we want to forge an equal and inclusive world, then society needs to better understand the difference between equity and equality.
Did you know that the inaugural IWD was held on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland?
On that first day, more than one million women and men participated in public events. Soon, other countries followed suit. The United Nations recognized 1975 as International Women’s Year and shortly thereafter designated March 8 as International Women’s Day and it is now celebrated around the world.
Talking about gender issues, raising awareness, building solidarity, sharing different perspectives and offering support are all important components in the journey to women’s equality amongst nations and on a local level in your community. The world needs to be free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination and instead be one filled with acceptance, compassion and inclusion.
Yet, the reality is that gender equality is still a long way off. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, every six days in Canada a woman is killed by her intimate partner. More than 1.5 million women live on a low income, only five per cent of sexual assaults are ever reported to the police and six out of 10 women cannot picture themselves as a leader. Clearly, there is work to be done in this country.
International Women’s Day is a day of unity, reflection, celebration, advocacy and action. We celebrate the acts of courage by individuals determined to advance gender equality in their communities. Although we have advanced the cause considerably, there is still work to do and we continue to require allies (men) in society to ensure equality between the genders. Women’s equality is a responsibility we must all fight for.
IWD belongs to everyone, everywhere. At its very essence, IWD ignites, inspires, directs, and connects audiences globally. Anyone can play an important part in this experience in their own chosen way. How you celebrate, is up to you.
Consider attending an event to feel motivated and empowered by an inspiring speaker. Celebrate the women in your life present and past. Put your artistic spirit to use and build or create something with vibrant meaning for your community. Or perhaps lobby your local government for better legislation, services, facilities, or access. Collective activism connects audiences. Find an event happening around the Greater Toronto Area that may be of interest to you and enjoy the experience.
We hope each of you makes IWD 2023 a special one. No matter what you do, your IWD activity is valid and impactful.
We’ll leave you with this. Renowned American journalist and activist Gloria Steinem once said, “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.”
Paula De Jesus, Programs Manager
Paula De Jesus has dedicated her career to supporting women, children, youth and men free themselves from the effects of abuse and intimate partner violence and pursue healthy relationships with themselves and those important in their lives.
Cidalia Pereira, Violence Against Women Team Lead
Cidalia Pereira has been working with women with experiences of abuse and violence and supporting the Portuguese-speaking community for over 20 years. She applies her passion and commitment to provide counselling and support services to help youth, adults and seniors connect to possibilities and live happier and healthier lives.
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