Come Friday, countries around the world will observe International Women’s Day, an event that celebrates women’s achievements while calling for gender equality.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” – should help to inspire women in our own Caribbean community to continue their struggle for equality.
While many Canadian women have made tremendous strides in their professional lives and some have broken the proverbial glass ceiling, Canada still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality.
In the case of women of colour in our own community, the fight against anti-Black racism makes the struggle for equality far more difficult .
In fact, the global situation with respect to gender equality continues to be a matter of deep concern.
According to a 2017 report by the World Economic Forum, it could still take another hundred years before the global equality gap between men and women disappears entirely.
Are we prepared to wait that long for this to happen ?
We believe it can happen much sooner. But the struggle has to be intensified here in our own community and in the outside world. And as the theme for International Women’s Day 2019 says, we will have to “think equal, build smart,” and “innovate for change.”
In a statement for International Women’s Day, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, notes that “achieving a gender-equal world requires social innovations that work for both women and men and leave no one behind.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka says that “it begins with making sure that women’s and girls’ needs and experiences are integrated at the very inception of technology and innovations. It means building smart solutions that go beyond acknowledging the gender gaps to addressing the needs of men and women equally.”
And, according to the Executive Director of UN Women, ” ultimately, it needs innovations that disrupt business as usual, paying attention to how and by whom technology is used and accessed, and ensuring that women and girls play a decisive role in emerging industries.”
As former United States President Barack Obama reminded his audience in a speech in Winnipeg this week, you cannot run a good organization if women are not at the table.
Clearly, he was not talking about the kitchen table.
As we get ready to celebrate International Women’s Day we are pleased to note that a growing number of women in the Caribbean community are getting involved in the political life of the country.
During Black History Month we highlighted the work of Operations Black Vote Canada (OBVC) whose members met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
OBVC is focussed on ” expanding the talent pool of future Black leaders in government at the municipal, provincial and federal levels” – a commendable initiative.
We hope that the organization is successful in its efforts to get more women to run for political office.
We wish to point out emphatically, however, that the battle for gender equality is one that has to be fought not just by women but by men as well.
We hope that the men are paying attention.