Written by Kelsey Chamberlin, Howe Sound Women’s Centre Volunteer
International Women’s Day (March 8) is ‘a day to celebrate economic, political, and social achievements of women and reflect on the current state of women’s rights and gender equality.’ Measuring progress and evaluating our commitment to making gender equality ‘a lived reality’ is particularly relevant this year as 2015 marks the deadline of the 15 year timeline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations. This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women. To commemorate the anniversary, the United Nations is set to assess the progress of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, a blueprint for realizing women’s rights signed by 189 governments in 1990.
Realizing gender equality, women’s empowerment and the human rights of women and girls is critical to realizing these goals and vital to humanity’s progress. Notable gains, like progress in narrowing gender disparity in access to primary school education, have been made. However, significant disparities remain in equal access to health, education and opportunities in economic participation and political empowerment.
The Gender Gap
- Globally, 78% of parliamentary seats are held by men 
- 60% of the world’s illiterate adults are women
- Canada ranked 26 out of 36 countries in income inequality. In 2010, BC women earned 65% of what men earned, 3% less than the national average.
The gender gap won’t be resolved overnight. With that said, acknowledging the current state of gender inequality and raising awareness is the first step in mobilizing individuals and communities to create change. Consider gender roles and societal structures that disadvantage, marginalize and oppress women. It’s time to demand closing the gender gap be made priority.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” -Gloria Steinem