International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate how far women (our definition of women INCLUDES trans women) have moved forward from a historical, political and equality standpoint, but it is also a day where we look ahead to see the challenges we still have before us.
Beginning with the suffragettes fight for the right to vote and progressing to the activists of today, women fight to improve conditions not just for themselves, but for their mothers, sister and daughters, and that includes our trans sisters. Women fight for improvements for current and the future generations.
The biggest goal for women worldwide is to achieve gender equality; where opportunities and responsibilities are not influenced by gender.
The first International Women’s Day was celebrated March 19, 1911 and was observed in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Eventually the United Nations recognized the day in 1975 and later they adopted a resolution which changed the date to March 8th.
This year’s theme is #MyFeminism
Too few women are in leadership roles in governments, businesses and on boards of directors. Women make up only 21.6% of Fortune 500 company board members.
Women are under-represented in politics, where only 26% of the 42nd Parliament are women. Women also only made up 28% of municipal councilors and only 18% of mayors in Canada.
Women are the majority of the people in caregiver positions, for both children and elderly parents. Women spend an average of 50 hours per week on unpaid childcare, and are twice as likely to spend more than 10 hours per week caring for a senior. Women also spend an average of 13.8 hours per week doing housework.
Women still earn less than men in the same or comparable positions. Women generally earn 68.4% of the salary a man would make in the same position. While representing two thirds of part time workers, women are over-represented in precarious work and comprise the large majority of the minimum wage percentage.
Women are at a 20% higher risk of being victims of gender based violence, with aboriginal women at three times the risk.
Trans women are not included on Statistics Canada census, usually live at or below the poverty line, and face more challenges to find gainful employment than any other demographic. Some things as simple as safety in washrooms are often ignored. Only 37% of transgender people have full time jobs. Trans women are 18% more likely to be turned down for a job, while 32% say they were unsure if their gender influenced the hiring manager’s decision. Trans women are twice as likely to experience intimate partner violence, compared to the average rate experienced by women. How do you make improvements when you have very limited statistics to work from?
Gender identity is mentioned in the Criminal Code of Canada, so acts of violence targeting trans people are officially considered hate crimes. Laws don’t protect people, laws like these only offer redress or punishment.
CCC 319(1) “any identifiable group”
318(4) defines identifiable group, includes gender identification and expression
Before this was amended last year, Human Rights Tribunals, Federal and Provincial bodies accepted and recognized these complaints under other grounds, usually sex. This change makes it explicit.
So how do we keep progressing?
Start by looking around you.
Attitudes and behaviors need to be adjusted.
Remember… “ALL of US or NONE of US!”
Women and girls need to be given better educational opportunities so they can learn what they need to succeed. We need to start calling out when we see gender stereotypes being assigned to women, where they are expected to know less and be less. We need to teach women who have interests in non-gender conforming rolls, to give them what they need to succeed. We need to support each other. We need to call out inequity EVERY DAY!