March 8 is International Women’s Day. (Stock photo)

March 8 is International Women’s Day. (Stock photo)

EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day can inspire us to recommit to equality

Let’s call out sexism, amplify feminism and keep working toward equality

There weren’t any marches this year to mark International Women’s Day, but even if we aren’t gathering together in COVID-19 times, we can still be united by the cause.

International Women’s Day on March 8 isn’t just another flowers-and-greeting-card occasion on the calendar. Maybe we can recognize the day more thoughtfully and consider the actions we can take toward gender equality, because we sure haven’t gotten there yet.

The pandemic has brought attention to some of the the shortcomings and failings in our pursuit of equality – domestic violence, for example. In Port Alberni, calls for domestic violence went up by 100 percent after the novel coronavirus pandemic was declared in March. A report at the end of November from Women’s Shelters Canada showed that crisis calls increased as quarantine continued, and so too did the severity of violence and abuse against women. Gender-based violence is one of the more difficult topics to talk about on International Women’s Day, but when our society is failing on base-level humaneness, it makes it that much harder to turn our attention to other inequalities.

The pandemic has also crystallized some of the vulnerabilities in our economies and job markets. Statistics Canada’s figures show women have been disproportionately impacted by job losses, both because they’re over-represented in industries harmed by COVID restrictions and also because they have dropped out of the labour force, more so than men, to take care of children.

If we’re willing to acknowledge the inequalities then we can celebrate International Women’s Day for its part in being a potential turning point. The United Nations’ International Women’s Day theme this year is women in leadership, with a call to accelerate the pace of change in diversifying governments around the globe. We can support that cause not only through our votes, but by supporting social change to remove barriers for women to seek and hold leadership positions.

And there are a thousand small ways to show women love and respect, whether it be by calling out sexism, amplifying feminism or advocating for progress in fixing the gender wage gap.

Until women have equality, they deserve answers about why it hasn’t happened yet, and more importantly, answers about how we can get there sooner.

– Black Press