International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on Mar. 8; upon learning that, there are probably some people out wondering what the point of it is. After all, women are people, women get to vote and own property, women can work … What more could women probably ask for?
The fact is, there’s a lot that women still need to fight for. The fight for women’s rights may look different than it did 100 years ago, but it is just as important as it was then.
There’s a Lack of Women in Leadership Positions
Women make up half of Canada’s population, and yet are drastically underrepresented in political and professional careers. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, women hold just 27 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons and make up just 19.5 per cent of the board members for Canada’s top 500 companies. In 2015, Statistics Canada reported that 35 per cent of Canadian women had a university degree, compared with 29 per cent of men, which suggests that women are qualified to hold more leadership positions than they currently do. While women’s workplace rights have come a long way from what they once were, there are still a lot of biases and injustices that need to be addressed in order to achieve equity.
Domestic Abuse is a Common Occurrence
Domestic abuse is a wide-scale issue that isn’t talked about nearly enough for how prevalent it is. Due to the stigma attached to it, many people aren’t even aware of what domestic violence consists of. More than just physical/sexual abuse, it is emotional manipulation and the removal of control over one’s own life. And, while both men and women can and do experience domestic abuse, women experience it at much higher rates. Statistics suggest that as many as one in five women will be subject to domestic abuse at some point in their life, and account for 83 per cent of victims. A substantial number of Canadians personally know someone who has been in an abusive relationship — and yet, not nearly enough is being done to fix this issue.
The above issues plague all women, but if you split that data up further, you can easily see that women belonging to other marginalized communities are impacted far more than white, able-bodied, straight cis-women. Just look at the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women; if white women were impacted the way indigenous women are, the national inquiry would have been called far sooner and be taken far more seriously. In general, beyond fighting for women, there is an increasing need to focus on the experiences of women of colour, women with disabilities, women in the LGBT+ community and women in other marginalized communities.
International Women’s Day matters in 2019 because women still lack many of the privileges afforded to men in the present day. It’s a day to raise awareness and start important conversations on the issues that continue to affect women. Even if you are lucky enough to never have experienced the injustices that are brought up in those conversations, it doesn’t mean this day shouldn’t matter to you. It just means that you need to take this opportunity to listen and learn about how you can be an ally to those with less privilege than you.