It is now 100 years since the idea of International Women’s Day was first proposed.
It took another 65 years before the United Nations designated 1975 “International Women’s Year” and officially sanctioned March 8 as International Women’s Day.
We have come a long way, yes. But we still have a long way to go.
I love what I do. As a Member of Parliament, I have one of the best jobs I could possibly imagine. But I wouldn’t be here and able to say that, if it weren’t for so many people who have struggled and fought, for so long, for equal rights for women. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we women couldn’t even VOTE (federally in Canada, 1918; in most provinces around the same time; not until 1940 in Quebec!) Until the male legislators agreed to “give us” the right, we couldn’t vote, let alone run for public office----and get elected. I am here because so many others worked so hard, and then offered their shoulders to stand on.
Every woman--including me--who today can pursue her dreams and her career aspirations, in environments that not too long ago excluded women---every one of us owes a debt of gratitude to those who have come before us. And we, in turn, owe it to all those who will come after us to continue to work toward full equality and full equality of opportunity for women everywhere.
We cannot rest until women the world over have the right, and the ability, to protect themselves; the right, and the ability, to stand up for themselves without recrimination and without fear; the right, and the ability, to assert their personal and economic independence; and the right, and the ability, to realize on an equal basis all of the potential afforded to their male counterparts.
As a woman I am proud, I am grateful and I am hopeful. Please join me in that pride, that gratitude and that hope, in celebrating International Women’s Day—all year long. We must all keep moving forward.