By Emily Stonehouse
March 8 is International Women’s Day.
A day to celebrate everything it means to be a woman; the strength, the resilience, the power, the magic.
It’s also a time to acknowledge the shortcomings; the gender pay gap, the imbalance of power, the disparity in equality that runs rampant around the world, some places worse than others.
When I thought about writing this editorial, I thought it would be a walk in the park. After all, I do identify as a woman, I was raised by strong women, and I am doing everything in my power to raise the next generation of glass-ceiling-breakers.
But, for the first time in a long time, I hit a wall.
Where do you start with “women”. What is there to say when you have too much to say.
I thought about the phrase “walk in the park” – an idiom that’s generally used to present a sense of ease. I thought about how every time I have ever walked through a park in a city, I hold keys between my fingers in my jacket-pocket, in case someone sneaks up behind me. I have faked phone calls when I felt fear in public places. I, like nearly every other woman, have a “me too” story to contribute. The worst part of it all? I have normalized these responses and reactions. They’re part of the package.
Half the population is just another statistic for imbalance, assault, and mistreatment.
The scales really begin to tip with Indigenous women, who make up only four per cent of the Canadian population, but over 16 per cent of the women murdered in our home on Native land.
So here we are, on Women’s Day, and it’s easy to be dragged down by the facts. There’s still so far to go. Why is it like this. Why are we spinning in circles. Still.
It’s not just up to those who identify as women; it’s a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of anyone with a beating heart. We must educate, must advocate, must listen, must learn. We can work with the young people to alter engrained generational practices, but we must always be open to change, at any age. We don’t need to spin in circles.
This day is also an opportunity to celebrate the stories of our towns; the women who are starting businesses, who are sharing their zest for life, who pave the way for others to follow, who think outside the box, and dare to dream of a world that’s different. I have the privilege, every week, to sit down with the movers and shakers of our towns, and feel inspired.
There’s so much to say, and never enough time, space, or energy to say it. Being a woman is exhausting.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you identify as a woman, I guarantee you’ve felt tired. And not the kind of tired a good night’s sleep will fix. The kind of exhaustion that you feel when you are constantly climbing uphill – fighting for basic rights, carrying the mental load, and being pushed backwards, backwards, backwards.
My hope for you is that you have a foundation. A group of other women who can catch you if you fall, listen to you when you are silenced, carry you forward when you are pushed back.
So, on International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the successes; the strength, the resilience, the power, the overall magic of being a woman, and let’s keep marching ahead.
Because being a woman may not be a walk in the park, but it shouldn’t be an uphill battle.