International Women's Day: The Strength of Many Voices towards Positive Change

A blog by Jill Bagwe, Vice President (Operations)

International Women's Day is a day to celebrate the cultural, economic, political, and social achievements of women around the globe and is also used as a call to action to accelerate gender parity.

The first International Women's Day (IWD) was held over a century ago in 1911 and was attended by a million people across four European countries. The intent of this first IWD was to end gender discrimination and secure women's rights to work and be trained, vote and hold public office.

In 1977, the United Nations officially declared March 8th as the observed date to celebrate IWD and the aim today, continues to be as it was over 100 years ago, and that is to raise awareness of prevailing gender inequalities in political and labour rights and accelerate gender parity.

In honour of IWD, the Canadian Ministry for the Status of Women (SoW) chose #MyFeminism as the theme for 2018. Given the historic, tectonic shift brought on by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, that theme is both timely and apropos.

Through the momentum of these aforementioned movements, women are empowered to tell their own narrative with the goals to end domestic and sexual violence against women and girls; advocate for change to policies, laws, and societal norms; and instill hope and empathy and create unity amongst men, women, and people of all gender identities.

#MyFeminism is meant to celebrate feminists who inspire others through their determination to make a difference...and who continue to lead the way towards positive change. The SoW asked Canadians to add their voice to the conversation and share what feminism or IWD means to you. To that end, I reached out to my female colleagues and asked that very same question of them and here are some of their responses:

  • All women have incredible strengths, passions and stories. International Womens Day to me is a day to show recognition and appreciation for all the women who have been through tough times, been defeated and have come back stronger. It is a day of reflection of your own self and to appreciate your own strengths and your accomplishments. It is a day to be proud of all women for who they are, where they have come from and where they are going. ~ Alma

  • For me, International Women’s Day is a time to recognize women’s accomplishments throughout history, their struggles, and to celebrate our current successes too. ~ Nikki

  • International Women's Day is important to me in that we can recognize and celebrate women's achievements. I am able to study and work in a field that historically started with women in its roots but currently is considered to be a male-dominated field. I'd like to take the time to recognize Ada Lovelace, who wrote one of the first computer programs, and Grace Hopper, who invented one of the first compilers. I'd also like to recognize the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who worked as engineers at NASA and helped advance space technology. Their stories are depicted in the movie, "Hidden Figures". Without these important women, we may not have the technology nor the scientific discoveries we have today. ~ Jill L

  • International Women’s Day is a great way to honour the women around the world going after their goals and dreams. Women in my generation were trained to compete with each other for resources. Women’s Day is a great reminder that this kind of negative competition hinders our ability to achieve our goals and it is no longer required. Collaborating and supporting each other is the best way to reach our dreams, and it is the true measure of success for this new generation. ~ Adriana

For me, International Women's Day is one of reflection in which I think upon the women who paved the way before me so that I might be afforded the fortuitous position that I am able to enjoy in Canada today: the right to vote; a C-suite position with the earning power equivalent to that of my male counterparts; even the simple ability to be able to drive and travel on my own. For that, I thank Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, and Naomi Wolfe, whose works and words inspired me during my formative years and beyond.

I am extremely proud to work at a company whose very mission and vision is meant to instill positive change. Not only does Onlea support the democratization of knowledge, but our Founders made the very conscientious decision to recruit women into the leadership roles at Onlea. Through their spheres of influence, they were able to accelerate gender parity and for that, I thank Glen Loppnow, Jennifer Griffin Schaeffer, and Jonathan Schaeffer.

Let us all rise to the challenge to instill changes within your own spheres of influence and lead the charge towards creating hope and unity amongst men, women, and people of all gender identities.

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Jill Bagwe

Jill Bagwe

VP of Operations, passionate about Onlea's mission.