International Women’s Day
Mar 07, 2011
March 8 is International Women’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to the world, our country, our community and in our lives. Being trained as a lawyer, it is not surprising that when considering the meaning of this day, my mind first flits to historical women firsts, such as the Famous Five in the Persons Case (Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General)  A.C. 124) in which women were recognized as ‘persons’ under the law, and then to more recent women firsts:
• Kim Campbell, first woman Prime Minister in Canada;
• Bertha Wilson, first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada;
• Beverley McLachlin, first woman appointed as the Chief Justice of Canada;
• Jeanne Sauve, first woman appointed at Governor General; and,
• Roberta Bondar, first Canadian woman in space (I’m also an alumnus of the International Space University)
More personal examples also come to mind from my own family history: not only distant generations who successfully raised large families while their husbands sailed or worked in lung-destroying foundries, but my own mother, who persevered through poverty to attain advanced education. A woman who was forced to give up a teaching job because she was pregnant (with me), but who went on to build a career in education. She then gave back to her community, her country and to the world through her work with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards program, volunteering as a teacher in developing regions around the world, and at the culmination of her life, taking on an international leadership position in her church.
I also have present-day examples in the very women with whom I work every day. They bring their intelligence, their life experiences, and their passion to all that they do. They are successful in their professions, in business, in public service, and in making a difference.
I am humbled and count myself so very fortunate to benefit from the heritage these women created. But it’s not enough to be thankful and admiring of others. To truly show our appreciation of the rights and freedoms we enjoy, we need to work hard to succeed in our own right. Furthermore, we must use the status we have been given to not only protect the ground that has been gained in our little corner of the world, but also to improve the lot of those who have yet to be recognized as persons.