How will you mark the day? Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.We have come a long way. But we have further to go and it would be wonderful to include all women of the world on that journey.
For younger women who have not experienced some of the worse times, let me share two brief stories with you.
Story Number One:
When I was a teenager in Grade 12, we had Career Day. That was held annually and on that day everyone in Grade 12 chose where they wanted to visit in relationship to their career choice. I wanted to be a Psychologist so I asked my Guidance Counsellor to find me somewhere that suited my goal. His response was that since I was a girl and would not benefit from a University course since I would obviously drop out to marry and have children, I needed to choose from Nurse, Secretary or Teacher and he would arrange a visit at a school, an office or a hospital.
As a preface, I'll share with you that I was always a high-achiever, excelled in the Maths, and had been placed in what was then called the "A" classes for my entire High School career. Basically that meant I was decently smart, motivated and a hard worker. But I was told I could not have the career I wanted because I was a girl and my goal should be to marry and reproduce.
Because I'm stubborn, I fought against being slotted into that mold and took my request higher up. It took a great deal of petitions and arguments, as well as my mother's active support, to finally obtain grudging permission to visit a Mental Health facility near where I lived. By the way my mother was the epitome of a strong woman! One thing she always told me was that I should never be dependent on a man to support me, that I needed a career to be able to support myself. My father was adamant that I would be the first one in the family to go to University.
Story Number Two:
When I was married in 1969, I worked while my husband attended University. I applied for a credit card and was refused. The company explained that only a man could have a credit card, and if I wanted one I had to have my husband apply in his name. I pointed out to the company that I was the sole wage-earner in the household and that my husband would therefore not be paying the bills so I wanted the card in my name. They refused and I never did get that card.
So my plea to younger women of today is please do not let go of the rights and privileges that my generation and others before me, fought for! Get out and vote! Don't overlook the amazing Suffragettes and what they went through to get the right for women to vote. Don't take the privileges and rights you have for granted. Fight for more and make sure you fight to keep the ones you have.
Be a strong woman in all aspects of your life - family, work... whatever you touch on your life journey.