Change that will bring about the best results for us all

On this International Women’s Day (March 8th) there are 134 registered events set for Canada alone along with countless informal opportunities to mark the day as well.  They are an opportunity to join with people around the world to celebrate the advances in women’s rights and gender equality that have been realized and to pledge support for continuing efforts on this front. 

 

In Canada, the tragic death of Loretta Saunders, an Inuk student who was researching her thesis on the subject of missing and murdered aboriginal women, serves as a sad and morbidly ironic reminder that there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to women’s issues.  It also sends a message to those who might be tempted to think that the heavy lifting in the struggle for women’s rights is largely behind us and that the focus should shift to other parts of the world that lag behind our progress on the issue.  While that may be partially true, because we have taken great strides towards gender equality, it also shows how some advancement has been slow or unequal. 

 

International Women’s Day is also a time to remember the brave individuals more than a century ago who, led by women in trade unions, called for better working conditions, peace and bread. Their call is still valid today and the positive outcomes of the work they undertook and also inspired remains desirable too.

 

Surely, when we attend to the needs and ensure opportunity for one half of our population we are engaging in a way that will only make us stronger. When we work toward this change we do so because equality for women is progress for all.  It is progress that has a profound impact on many desirable fronts.

 

A good example of this can be found in a study released last year that showed how including women on the governing board of a company is good for business. It explained that companies with more women on their boards tend to outperform their competitors for return on equity, return on sales, return on capital, performance of shares and growth in stock price.  Those are strong reasons to include women on boards, but nearly half of the publicly traded Canadian companies still have no women on their boards.

 

That number will change based on the work we pledge to undertake and continue every year on International Women’s Day.   Working together - men, women, youth, community leaders – we challenge the status quo, and inspire positive change.  We can build on the lessons learned, confident in the knowledge that equality for women is advancement for all, and use this to inspire a new generation to continue the push for change and progress until the world is truly inclusive and to be born a girl is never a disadvantage.