“I tried that twice,” I told them, referring to the times when my son and daughter were babies. “But I wasn’t very good at it.”
“I feel sorry for your kids,” one of the women responded quickly. “Mothers should be home with their children.”
Wow. Would a working father ever hear a statement like that?
Dumbfounded I checked my iPhone to see what year it was. Okay, good. I hadn’t been transported back in time to a pre-feminist era. It was still 2011 when women in our society have the right to pursue any career they’d like, whether they’re a mother or not.
And the women who fought for that right are being celebrated Tuesday, March 8th all around the world on International Women’s Day. Applauding the economic, political and social achievements of women, it’s an important day that many people aren’t even aware of.
“Women’s Day?” asked one of my friends when I told him about it. “Is that something new?” It’s not new at all. The very first one was in 1911 in Europe when more than one million men and women attended Women’s Day rallies all over Europe to end discrimination and campaign for women’s rights to work, vote, receive training and hold public office.
Huge strides have been made in the hundred years since then in the careful planning to attain equality between the sexes. The courage and determination of the women who started this movement, and those who persevered for decades after, have paved the way for the rest of us.
I spoke with Laurel Douglas, the CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Centre in my home town, about an event called “Leaps and Bounds: the Next 100 Years” that she’ll be speaking at on March 8th.
“I do presentations about International Women’s Day because I think we should recognize and give thanks to those women who were willing to take on leadership roles and step forward for a cause they believed in.”
For Laurel, this is a cause she’s held dear to her heart for a long time. In 1975, when she was in high school and Helen Reddy’s famous song was still popular on the radio, she remembers it being declared International Women’s Year. From then on the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day every March 8th.
But even though women have been granted basic human rights including equal pay for work of equal value, the fact is that Canadian women still earn only 82% of what men earn. “We still have a ways to go,” said Laurel. “Strong female leadership is important.”
And with women’s organizations such as hers, and the Kelowna Women in Business group which is hosting the event this Wednesday, that kind of leadership is still happening. When women accept and support one another and encourage a pursuit of passions, our sisterhood becomes stronger and anything feels possible.
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities,” said the great Gloria Steinem. “Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
For information on the Women’s Enterprise Centre visit womensenterprise.ca
For information on Kelowna Women in Business and their event visit kwib.org