Once upon a time, in what feels like another lifetime ago, I was a ‘mature’ student in university. Going back to finish my degree when I was already married, (maybe a wee bit) older and more knowledgeable about who I was definitely affected my decisions. Somewhere along that loooooong drawn out education path, I took a lot of courses all relevant to current events, issues, work and studies of daily life simply because they interested me. Letting these passions and interests be my guide, I happily discovered I had enough courses to earn a minor in Women’s Studies.
The Women’s Studies program explores the social construction and variability of gender. Power relations linked to race and ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation and ability/disability impact the lives of women on the local and global levels are also examined.
One of the possible careers listed for a student that concentrates part of their studies on looking at women as a marginalized population was ‘Advocate.’ What strikes me now, looking back, is considering the idea of Advocate (noun) or advocate (verb) as somehow separate rather than part of who I am and what I do. And it can’t possibly be separated from me as a feminist either.
“Ah,” your brain just computed. “She’s a feminist.” But given that feminism is about “advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men” I believe the term feminist has no need to be even qualified. Isn’t it obvious that I would be? I mean, aren’t you?
Think about the different facets that make up who you are – every single hat you wear – and ask yourself how you could possibly compartmentalize working on behalf of the equality of women.
Are you less than in any of these roles because you are a woman? Do you want rigid stereotypes, limited opportunities, and increased risks for your daughter because of her gender?
Mother – passionately devoted to my children’s well-being; to raising strong, empathetic, and empowered children. Each year in Canada, an estimated 362,000 children witness or experience family violence. While not all children who witness violence suffer direct physical abuse, they frequently develop long-term behavioural and psychological problems.
As a mother of a daughter about to turn 11, this statistic hits me hard: 11% of female victims of sexual assault are under age 11.
Special Needs Parent – warrior who tirelessly advocates for health and wellness for my babes. Exposure to violence can affect children’s brain development and ability to learn, and lead to a wide range of behavioural and emotional issues such as anxiety, aggression, bullying, phobias, and insomnia.
Wife – Half of a partnership; committed to supporting my husband/partner and our relationship. Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.
Employee – dedicated to using my knowledge and experience to the best of my abilities on behalf my employer. Women workers in Canada earn an average of 66.7 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Friend – A relationship based on trust, honesty, dependability, and loyalty; supportive through good and bad. 67% of Canadians know a woman who has been physically or sexually assaulted.
Woman – Women account for slightly more than half of Canada’s population. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
Clearly, gender inequality exists today and is intertwined into daily life. It remains present in the wage battles, the language, the sexual assault, and the statistics on violence and poverty.
But it shouldn’t.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation has a dream: That Canada will lead the world by creating the FIRST GENERATION to experience real gender equality. GEN1 means:
- The first generation free of violence. No sexual harassment or assault, no domestic abuse, no sex trafficking.
- The first generation ofeconomic equality. No gender wage gap, no glass ceiling, no girls afraid to show their brilliance.
- The first generation of inclusive leadership. Leadership that collaborates and includes marginalized voices.
The Foundation kicks off its Campaign to End Violence on May 1, promoting GEN1 and the goal of creating the first generation to experience gender equality. Throughout the month-long campaign, you can show your support by joining discussions on Facebook and Twitter, attending Move for GEN1 or visiting WINNERS and HomeSense stores to Shop for GEN1. (Help by shopping? YES!) The Foundation’s product line is a seasonal collection of Indian bazaar-inspired home décor and fashion accessories and 100% of net proceeds support over 450 shelters and violence prevention programs across Canada.
On Monday, May 2 at 8 pm EST/ 6 pm MST, join me at #JoinGEN1 Twitter party to chat about how to end gender inequality and the root of the issues affecting women and girls today—violence, poverty and limiting gender stereotypes. Of course, there will be great prizes available – you must RSVP below to be eligible to win.