International Women’s Day

I have shared March 8 with International Women’s Day for my entire life.

From my centre-of the -universe perspective, the late winter date less than two weeks from the first day of spring was once more about birthday cake, seeing friends and family and growing older and wiser.

In fact, as a young boy, International Women’s Day was nothing more than a light-hearted punchline at my expense when various people in my life would inevitably realize my birthday falls on the same date in the calendar that the world honours women.

Even my mother ribs me to this day about the coincidence.

After a few more spins around the sun I have come to realize the greater meaning of International Women’s Day and sharing my birthday with it has become a privilege.

Since its origins during the first world war and after being officially recognized by the United Nations in 1975,  people around the world pause on March 8 not only to celebrate the many achievements made by the women’s movement, but also to cast an eye to the future at the pains still underway on the road to equality and women’s rights.

Because March 8 falls on a Saturday this year, I assume myriad gatherings of women (and men, but sadly mostly women) to mark the occasion will be scattered onto various weekdays. I had the pleasure of reporting on one such early International Women’s Day event put on by the Zonta Club of Woodstock this week at Quality Hotel & Suites.

At this event, I was enlightened (and frightened) by harsh realities highlighted by Christal Earle, the night’s keynote speaker. Earle spoke of continued human trafficking, slavery and the overall exploitation of women and children. These grave injustices are being carried out to this day, not only in the far reaches of the globe, but right here at home in Canada.

I believe it’s important that as a global society we do not tolerate oppression. As passive bystanders to injustice, we allow it to continue.  If we do not raise our voices when we see something wrong, then we have become part of the problem.

On International Women’s Day, remember that we can eradicate the maltreatment of an entire sex of people, if we stand together.

And less importantly, don’t forget to wish me a happy birthday.