I’m celebrating all the women in my life today, particularly my daughters and my nieces. In Canada, the theme for International Women's Day and Week 2011 is Girls' Rights Matter, recognizing the importance of equality and access to opportunity for girls and women, and inviting us to not only reflect on the situation of girls in Canada, but to look beyond our relative privilege at home and recognize the situation of girls around the globe.
I’m filled with gratitude that I could raise my daughters to be educated, independent and strong. To be able to choose careers, to choose partners, to contribute to their communities, to vote and to make their own decisions about their own lives. Compared to many, many young women internationally, they are exceedingly lucky.
When it adopted its resolution on the observance of Women's Day, the UN General Assembly was recognizing that the participation, equality and development of women are fundamental in securing peace, social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights (UN Women Watch). We’ve come a long way. And we’ve got a long way to go to implement meaningful change for all of us, not just us lucky few.
To all the women who have enriched my life with your love, strength, compassion, humour, intelligence, generosity, kinship, support, ideas, knowledge, creativity, silliness, thoughtfulness, awareness, kindness, stubbornness, talent, work and art – you are, collectively, a bright and shining mosaic, and beautiful thing number 22.
The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all. ~Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Leader of Burma's Democracy Movement
On this fourteenth day of posting things beautiful, I’m thinking about women. I was born into a family that is heavy in the girl population. As such we’re all independent, strong and never had to think about any sort of limitations placed on us due to our “role” in things. Being a single mom was certainly not the ideal situation, but I never harboured one doubt about my ability to raise my girls alone, and do it well.
Having girls has always been something to celebrate – indeed, both sides of my family are filled with remarkable women throughout its history and we’re continuing to crank them out. We’re intelligent, creative, brave, funny, capable, loving, resourceful, interested, informed and we love being girls.
Lots of women around the world aren’t as lucky as we are. Many of the world’s women are born into cultures that discriminate against them and withhold many of their rights, such as education. Twenty percent of the world’s adult population lacks basic literacy skills, and two-thirds of those are women. Without basic literacy, these women lack the resources to overcome poverty.
Women all over the world lack access to resources. In my own country day care and early learning are chronically underfunded; in terms of access to affordable and available child care spaces, Canada is ranked last among the developed nations, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. What does that mean? Mothers can’t afford to go to work, or to school, and remain under the poverty line.
Many women don’t have the choice or access to resources to limit the amount of pregnancies they have or to prevent the transmission of disease. Many countries don’t protect women from violence and abuse.
Today is International Women’s Day and there’s lots to celebrate. We’ve achieved much. But many of us aren’t so lucky, and on this day we should remember them, and resolve to do what we can to support them. Because this worldwide tapestry of sisterhood is beautiful – and when any part of it is damaged it weakens the whole.