International Day of the Girl

Oct. 11, 2019

Two years after Canada adopted Women’s History month, some 30,000 women and men from 200 countries of United Nations attended the 4th World Conference on Women.  The Bejing Declaration and Platform for Action was born.  This gave rise to the creation of International Day of the Girl.  This year’s theme is Unscripted and Unstoppable.  I look again to the #MeToo movement of 2017-2018.  #MeToo marked a huge outcry from women survivors of sexual assault and harassment.  The lack of respect for women even after the movement is evident in reviewing the statistics in Canada, the following information was listed:

  • In 2017 the number of sexual assault cases reported to police peaked in October;

  • The number of historic assault cases (10+ years) reported, increased 6%

  • Young women under the age of 25 report the most assault, but the increase was only 1%;

  • Sexual assault against women with business relationships to the accused increased 4%;

  • Compared with before #MeToo, fewer accused persons were identified in connection with the sexual assault after #MeToo; however, when an accused person was identified, there was no change in the proportion of persons charged.

There are several things that stand out in these statistics, mostly that for as much as the media brought this to the living rooms of Canada, nothing changed.  The exception being for a small portion of time, women felt empowered to speak out.  The facts remain that:

  • 300 women and children are turned away from shelters on any given night in Canada because they are full;

  • 1.9 Million Canadian women live on low income;

  • 36% to 14% The drop in the percentage of girls who feel confident between the grades 6-10;

  •  60% of women are less likely than men to move from middle management to the executive ranks.

This information is both staggering and appalling, there is no sugar coating these truths to make them more palatable.  These are the facts and in order to change our future and our girls futures, we MUST acknowledge the past and present.  Let this information be our motivator, as a proud first nations woman and mother of 2 girls I see no other choice.  This years theme is best portrayed in girls such Emma Gonzalez, with her, “We call BS!” for gun control after the Florida shootings and Greta Thunberg standing up in the United Nations to say, “How Dare you!” to the world leaders on their failure to act on the environmental crisis.  The best way to honor the strong women who came before us is to stand up for ourselves, our sisters, comrades and brothers, teach our children about true responsibility for their actions.  These things are within our own power and if everyone does them, our future will look back on us now and instead of saying nothing has changed, they will say, “that is when things changed!”.  Let’s make sure the girls today grow up in a Canada where they are respected as equals and gender doesn’t matter.