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A feature blog by Micki Materi Co-Ed of Programs.

Happy International Women’s Day!
Nellie McClung once said,” We must remember the past to understand the present and face the future”

We must look back to the beginning of the 20th century to find the truth and strength of International Women’s Day. In the midst of social turbulence, IWD was born in the hearts of women who persevered through strikes, fights and demonstrations for the right to vote , fair wages and decent working conditions. In North America we commemorate IWD because of two major events. The general strike in the New York Garment district in 1909 where 30,000 women organized, striked, and unionized. The other event was the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire on March 25th, 1911 which took the lives of 175 women and children. These events were caused by appalling working conditions and slave wages.

It’s a day to celebrate our achievements, to reflect on the progress we have made and to commit and dedicate ourselves to the continued work ahead. We must understand that progress has only been achieved by women standing together in solidarity and sisterhood. We must always remember that the rights we take for granted today were fought long and hard for by women whose only goal was to make the world a better place for us, and we have a responsibility to continue the work for the people of tomorrow.
We have come a long way, but we still have a journey ahead. We have choices, we have reproductive rights, our earning capacity has increased, although we are still earning on average 75cents to every dollar a man earns.  Violence Against Women and Poverty are still the biggest barriers for women and the impact of these barriers are increased depending on your race, sexuality, gender identity, ability, and age. “We won’t achieve equality until we eliminate violence against women and we won’t eliminate violence against women until we achieve equality.” This is a quote from the Report of the Federal Panel on Violence Against Women in 1993. Poverty makes it difficult to leave an abusive relationship and poverty is often the result of leaving an abusive relationship.

Pursuing true equality means recognizing and meeting all peoples’ diverse needs.
We must focus on improving equality for those most marginalized in order to improve equality for all. which means we need to listen!
Larissa Crawford founder and Managing Editor of Future Ancestors shared her thoughts with FLARE magazine in 2020 regarding the need for International Women’s Day and these were her final thoughts :
“IWD must move beyond a mutual admiration congregation towards creating space to be critical of one another: to be critical of who holds privilege, who benefits from another’s oppression, who is complacent, who is not getting their due recognition. And there are many, many people who are advancing IWD exactly in that direction. The question then becomes, are we willing to listen?””
As Rosemary Brown once said “Until all of us have made it – none of us have made it.”

We must also be persistent and patient.

As someone who has been involved for 30 years in the advancement of women, I have experienced some of the progress, and yes, the process of change can be very slow, and in this day and age when we expect instant gratification and we need to express ourselves in 200 characters or use pictures or emojis, it might seem a little daunting. But I can tell you that it has been the journey that has solidified my absolute belief without a doubt in my mind 100 thousand percent that women are the strength of society, the true leaders that will create a future where everyone matters, where we all win, and where we will have a future free from violence.

I know this because, over the course of 30 years working with women has demonstrated our ability to be naturally inclusive, to question the status quo and to seek new ideas, to listen and respect other perspectives, Share knowledge. We naturally work from a perspective of power with rather than power over. We want to ensure that everyone feels okay. And we know that in order to achieve, we need to value the insights of everyone. We know that Collaborative leadership is the best way to ensure inclusivity. We know that if we want to make the world a better place then we need to do it –together. One woman can change anything – Many women can change everything.