Why Don’t We Celebrate Women’s Day in Canada?

Header photo is of my Great-Grandmother Irena Michalak who worked as a nurse during WW2. 

My first memory of Women’s Day is from kindergarten.   It was the 1980’s in Poland & our teacher told us it was Women’s Day & we were celebrating women & girls.  The boys all made gifts to give to the girls in the class & I remember feeling special , & excited by the acknowledgment.

Women’s Day in Canada

That’s my only significant memory of the day.   I know it was celebrated in Germany, but since coming to Canada I cannot recall one significant moment.  I have a hazy recollection of being told by a teacher in Middle School, that women attained equality in the 70’s (ha!) but that is about it.   There were no school assemblies, community celebrations or honorary marches.

Today I understand why – Women’s Day is not taken seriously in Canada.  The historical background of the day, the roots of resistance & struggle has been white-washed by the government (exhibit: Government of Canada website).  Most people believe that women attained equality some 40 years ago & should really shut up about it & thank the men in their lives for not treating them like property.

Women’s Day in Canada is a day that has no meaning, it exists without history or pride.   Unless we take the time to self-educate, we have no knowledge of the struggle of Canadian women in the past or any desire to acknowledged their ongoing struggle today.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Post

On a day of no-meaning, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Women’s Day social media post received a lot of attention & criticism for her Women’s Day post in Canada.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 8.38.21 AMI’m not going to judge a woman for how she personally chooses to observe this day.  I can understand what drove Sophie to develop her message. The desire to acknowledged & thank your partner for being supportive of you, for being an ally.

But, I am disappointed that a woman with such a platform as her, choose a male-centric message for Women’s Day.  Her message undermines the accomplishments of Canadian women & the ongoing struggle for equality.

I hope she realizes why she’s received the criticism she has.  That her message is a perfect example of the White Feminism brand of feminism.  The brand of feminism which comes from a place of great privilege, which fails to see the struggle of non-white, cis-gender women & which looks to white men for validation in their fight for gender equality.

My Wish for Women’s Day

I’m going to make a wish today .. I wish that we as Canadian’s start to take this day seriously.  The we use it to celebrate women’s accomplishments & draw attention to the ongoing inequalities that exist in our society.

I wish that :

  • Teacher’s would use this day to teach the history of the Women’s movement in Canada & sexism in our society.
  • Business Leaders’s would use this day to acknowledged the accomplishment & work of their female staff in the success of their business. Especially those who work in administrative, back-office, retail, custodial & other roles that are taken for granted & forgotten.
  • Elected Government officials would use this day to make real positive change for the women in their communities, instead of issuing  empty statements &  promises.
  • Men would stop & listen to our stories, concerns, fears & struggles, without feeling the need to inject their own.
  • We as White Women look beyond our own experience, listen to other women & support their fight for respect & equality.

Thank you to the Women in My Life

As my own celebration I’m going to thank the women in my life through whose existence, strength, advice, love & friendship I am the person I am today.  Some of you may thing you’ve never “done anything”, but I’m going to tell you that just seeing you overcome the struggles in your lives is inspiring.  Seeing you kick-ass in life is inspiring.  Seeing you smile everyday is inspiring.

Thank you for being in my life.

UPDATE:

Took my own advice & started a deep-dive into the history of Canadian women.  Posting some of my finds on twitter at – @Kinga_p.

 

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