International Women’s Day

Mar 07, 2023

March 8 is International Women's Day (IWD), a day to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women and girls and raise awareness of the progress made towards achieving gender equality and the work that still needs to be done.

The need to work together to advance and protect women’s rights is not the foregone conclusion we would hope it to be. Social, political, and other forces continue to restrict participation for women, girls, two-spirit, and non-binary persons and reinforce patriarchal worldviews that lead to discrimination, oppression, and violence. Policies and practices rooted in colonialism and patriarchy continue to dominate our institutions. Their legacies and protection of traditional power structures lead to a lack of access to healthcare, childcare, and educational and career opportunities for women.

The theme for International Women’s Day in Canada this year is Every Woman Counts. It is a reminder that women, from all ages and walks of life, have a rightful place in every aspect of Canadian society, including in the economic, social, and democratic spheres.

It is critical that we recognize the intersections of identity in our pursuit of gender equality.  We must acknowledge the disproportionate impacts that layers of discrimination based not only on gender, but race, religion, ethnicity, ability, and sexuality have on the lives of women and girls.

The United Nations’ theme for IWD this year is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” aligning with the priority theme for the upcoming 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.  

The origin of International Women's Day can be traced back to organizing and advocacy that began in the early twentieth century including the activities of labour movements in North America and Europe. The times reflected a growing call for women’s equal participation in society.

Today, International Women's Day is a day of unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action and is acknowledged in many countries worldwide. Our continued commitment to advancing women’s rights and protecting those hard won rights through the years requires active involvement in discussions where access to these rights is questioned.

I encourage everyone to reaffirm their commitment to this important work, to celebrate the women and girls in their lives, and champion causes that strive to ensure the opportunities afforded to them are free of barriers to achievement.

Happy International Women’s Day!

The preceding is a statement from Joseph Fraser, Director & CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.