Mar. 8, 2021
GSU statement on International Women's Day
Every year the organizers behind International Women’s Day (IWD) choose a theme. This year’s IWD theme is #ChooseToChallenge. This weekend as I contemplated what to write this year, I decided to combine my personal and professional life. I watched the Dream Gap Tour; it was a women’s professional hockey league game. There used to be 2 professional hockey leagues for women but in 2019 the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded. So now there only remains the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.
I have 2 daughters who I have tried to raise them believing they could do anything. Both girls have asked me if they could play in the NHL when they grew up and the answer has been sadly no. I have watched the inequities in female hockey in Nova Scotia. The boys in U13 AAA are invited to a Hockey Nova Scotia camp which is how team Nova Scotia is chosen and through this venue they can eventually be chosen for the Canada Winter Games and onto the Olympics. My oldest was on this team and she was not given an invitation because female hockey doesn’t start until U16.
As I watched the women’s game, I did notice they played with passion, but they seemed to lack the crisp passes and speed of the NHL. I was curious as to why this may be, so I looked up the average salary for women’s professional hockey players versus the NHL. Women can receive $9,000.00 per season and up to $15,000 for the rare player. The average salary for the NHL is $3 Million per season. So, men only train and play the game. Women must work and fit hockey into their days which are filled with responsibilities outside of the game. They are not asking for wage parity right now, but how can we grow the game for women if they do not have the same opportunities?
Sunday evening February 28, 2021 was historic in that it was the first time that a female professional women’s game was played in Madison Square Garden. It was opened by an inspiring speech by Billie Jean King, the first lady of professional sports. She said, “Be bold, meaningful and long lasting”. She also said that they must be part of a collective to amplify their voices. There is a new campaign, “Stick in the Ground”, where the elite stars of the NHL are putting their sticks in the ground to support women’s hockey.
I want a future for my girls where there are not limits based on gender. I want to #ChooseToChallenge the status quo and stand up for inequities based on gender in a world where half the population are not treated equally. Women have made headway in the fight but there is more to do, please #ChooseToChallenge and if you have a female hockey player in your life, put your stick in the ground!