Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, said to mark International Women's Day last week: “We salute the exceptional contribution women make in tackling global challenges, including women’s and girls’ issues. Canada will continue to advance gender equality around the world.”
Immigrant and ethnic minority language and cultural communities across the country celebrated Canadian women. Editorials and opinion articles celebrated the achievements of women this year, from #MeToo to #TimesUp, and the daily successes women achieve every day. They called on their readers and listeners to pay attention to the challenges women face, and celebrated achievements of women, specifically immigrant women, making a difference in their communities.
New Canadian Media is running a series of stories featuring immigrant women and the positive impact they have in their communities. The first story of the series "Changing Ontario: South Asian Women Step Up to Empower the Community."
In Share a Caribbean weekly, "The Time Is Now" was the message. Criticizing that "Women and girls comprise some 51 per cent of the Canadian population. Yet, women continue to earn on average 87 cents for every dollar earned by men. In Ontario, the average wage for Black women is 74 cents for every dollar earned." Calling for "more women politicians and more ethnic and cultural diversity among women politicians because the time is now."
On Good Morning Calgary Punjabi Lehran YW CEO Sue Tomney called out Calgary for having one of the largest pay gaps in Canada--66 cents to the Calgary man's dollar. A guest on Punjabi Lehran in Brantford's said that "women’s contribution towards Canadian society is very deep, profound and unforgettable." He said women are the foundation of society. "All of us came to Canada as immigrants, and we are mostly achieving the best as per our capacities and abilities," he said. Later, a GTA based caller urged men in the South Asian community and around the world to treat women in their lives with dignity and equality.
There were celebrations and presentations, as well as marches and protests. Filipino groups walked alongside "other migrants, Blacks, Muslims, transgender, indigenous people and other groups to celebrate" reported in a story by The Philippine Reporter. “Women and children are most affected by displacement, loss of livelihood and health problems,” said Mithi Esguerra, chairperson of the Ontario chapter of the militant Filipina women’s group Gabriela. “That’s why we are marching.”
In the wake of sexual assault revelations from Hollywood to hometown politics, the conversation is starting to change, or at least, the conversation is starting. For immigrant women, the barriers are bigger, the consequences of speaking up or speaking out more serious. Seeing the wave of women writing in their media encouraging each other to unite in the fight for equality, acknowledging the difficulties that lie ahead and promising to continue forward in the face of adversity.
Caribbean publication Pride asked if #IWD was Reality or Rhetoric. The #PressForProgress hashtag accompanied the day, urging people to engage with women and women's issues every day. Yvonne Same says eloquently "While IWD is chiefly about celebrating the role of women, it is also about crusading for change and then making that change happen. As women, we must take the necessary steps at changing what takes place at the micro, macro and mezzo levels of society. Change should first begin in the home, where children are taught respect and love for each other, regardless of sex."
At MIREMS, women are an integral part of the work we do. We are proud to have equality in the workspace, and grateful for the work and staff that make this so.
Written by Caora McKenna