International Women's Day may be over for 2014, but I'm looking forward to the time when women and men will sit together at the table with no one sitting apart or behind.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published March 11, 2014
International Women's Day (IWD) has come and gone for another year. I was privileged to attend several IWD events over the past two weeks and each one managed to both inspire and change me.
The Elspeth Heyworth Centre's held its celebration at Vaughan City Hall. It was a wonderful morning that featured Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and keynote speaker The Honourable Jean Augustine.
Mayor Bevilacqua is an eloquent speaker and a true feminist in every sense of the word. His speech honoured his mother, the women he worked with as a Member of Parliament, as well as the women on Vaughan city council.
Ms. Augustine was priceless! She reminded her audience to never forget the Canadian women who fought so hard to get us to where we are today. How many of us remember Rosemary Brown, Doris Anderson, the famous five? And how many remember that Jean Augustine was responsible for establishing February as Black History month?
The Dinner Party hosted by Women of Halton Action Movement and the Zonta Club of Oakville was a fabulous fundraiser for the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services of Halton. Mary Walsh entertained us with her take on women's issues.
I was oblivious to the fact that root vegetables have a full week dedicated to them while women and women's issues get a single day! Mary, if you ever decide to run for mayor or prime minister you have my vote!
The IWD event at Queen's Park was hosted by Teresa Piruazza, Minister responsible for Women's Issues as well as the Minister for Child and Youth Services.
Premier Kathleen Wynne made a truly insightful observation when she said that we will have made real strides in women's rights when parents no longer have to tell their daughters that one day they too may be premier - it should just be a given that girls and young women can be whatever they want to be.
But I have to say that the keynote speaker at the Halton Women's Place luncheon was truly the most inspiring speaker that I had the pleasure to hear.
As a child, Mariatu Kamara watched her family and fellow villagers savagely murdered by child rebels in Sierra Leone. She survived, but not before both of her hands were cut off. Ms. Kamara is now a beautiful young woman with a child of her own living and working in Toronto.
She has forgiven her attackers and she reminded everyone in the audience that we in Canada have very little to complain about.
I agree with Ms. Kamara. Yes, there are things that need to be changed in Canada. We need women's rights to be recognized and honoured; we need abusers of women to be held accountable; we need an inquiry into missing native women, we need access to transition housing, affordable housing, affordable mass transit, a living wage, jobs with benefits, affordable universal day care and on and on.
The great thing is that we have people, like the members of Women at the Centre, who are willing to put their time and effort into bringing these changes to fruition.
We also have the opportunity to vote at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to create governments that will support women rather than worrying about cutting taxes and growing the economy through ghetto jobs.
International Women's Day may be over for 2014, but I'd like to see every day become International Women's Day. I'm looking forward to the time when women and men will sit together at the table with no one sitting apart or behind the group.
Sitting together at the same table, we'll be able to make the changes that we want to see in the world - even if it's only in our own backyard.