#IWD2021 - 3 minutes

On being a woman

I am the first woman in my family to attend university. When my foremothers were growing up, the only option they had was to become of a certain age, get married, and have children. While there is nothing wrong with that way of living if one chooses, I couldn’t imagine that being the only option available to me because I am a woman.

On being a woman "

I went to university and I have lived and travelled abroad. I have worked and gotten equal pay to my male colleagues. I have voted and continue to live my best life without any restrictions or hesitations due to being a woman. Being able to say these things today—I can’t help but be grateful for how far women have come. I sometimes say a quick thank you to God for the fact that I wasn’t born during those times but then I also reflect in awe on how much women have fought to be treated equally in today’s society. And I continue to be appreciative that I am able to stand on their shoulders and be in the position where I am today.

As women, we have come a long way but there is still work to be done. We all (men and women) need to roll up our sleeves and do the work together. There is a generation of women coming up after us and I’m sure they will want to see how we have paved the way for them.

To my mother, grandmother, and all the other women whose struggles have allowed me to enjoy the benefits that I enjoy today, I say a big thank you. In that same spirit, I honour all women here at NorQuest College as we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. And as we celebrate, it’s a good time to see some significant points in Canadian history of women.

  • 1918: Canadian women (but not Aboriginal and Asian women) won the right to vote in federal elections.
  • 1972: Rosemary Brown becomes the black woman elected as a Member of Parliament.  
  • 1975: Women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by men.
  • 1977: The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) was passed, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, and ensuring equal pay for work of equal value.
  • 1978: The Canada Labour Code was amended to eliminate pregnancy as a basis for lay-off or dismissal.
  • 1983: Rape laws are modified in order to include sexual aggression and to make illegal the rape of a wife by her husband.
  • 2009: For the first time, there are more women in the labour market than men. 

Statistics taken from the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

By Christine Womiloju, Social Worker, Centre for Growth and Harmony

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