>International Women’s Day – M and 007 Style

9 Mar

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International Women’s Day first began in the early 1900s as a National Women’s Day in the United States. In 1911 it became International Women’s Day – making this year’s the 100th anniversary! It is now an official holiday in 27 countries around the world (though Canada and the United States are not among them) and is treated similarly to Mother’s and Father’s Day.

Unfortunately too many people have never heard of it – or if they have, they don’t understand why we still celebrate it. On the surface it might seem like we’ve come a long way. And indeed, we have – at least in this part of the world. We’ve got the vote. We’ve got rights to our earnings. We’ve got legal recourse for sexual harassment. We’ve got female firefighters, doctors, lawyers, CEOs and sports legends. We’ve got Angelina Jolie playing parts written for Tom Cruise. What don’t we have? Equality.

In Canada, university educated women still earn only 71 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Some of this divide can be accounted for by time missed due to pregnancy and childcare (it’s still more economical for most women to stay home than to pay for childcare). Most of you will probably have been following all the issues happening in the U.S. surrounding women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage rights – both of which are excellent reasons to seriously consider how equal our society really is.

It’s also important that men are aware of the issues women face. Not just because they can help create a more equal society, but because it affects them as well. When women’s salaries are so much lower, the burden of supporting a family falls to the man – whether or not he wants that extra responsibility. This in turn means that while he may have more career options and prospects, he can end up missing out on stuff at home. While if given the choice, most of us would prefer more options and greater societal and financial power, there are negative implications of inequality for everyone. Plus, there are plenty of men out there who are just as concerned about the issues that make International Women’s Day important as women are – they care about the women in their lives and they want everyone to benefit from the same freedoms and rights.

This year take some time to imagine every male you see as female and vice versa. Imagine what the world would look like if our roles were reversed. Don’t think that because we’re better off than we were a century ago we’re good enough – or that every woman in the world enjoys the same freedoms you do. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t slack off. And don’t accept the status quo – we all deserve better.

Check out these links for some excellent blog posts by a couple of my friends (and amazing women) as well as the official site for International Women’s Day:

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