100 years until a day to advocate for women’s rights is a thing of the past

Percentage of women in companies' board of directors, World Economic Forum Report 2020 Photo credit: World Economic Forum

International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on the strides made in gender equality, and to look ahead at the work that still needs to be done.

On Sun. March 8th, Canada and the world will celebrate the 45th annual International Women’s Day. In support, Sportsnet’s National Hockey League broadcast will feature an all-female cast to “inspire young women and put a spotlight on what is possible.”

With this year’s hashtag being #EachforEqual, gender equality continues to be a prominent theme.

However, even with self-proclaimed feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a gender-balanced cabinet, Canada does not lead the world in gender equality.

According to the World Economic Forum Gender Parity Report, Canada is 19th out of 153 countries. Canada ranks higher than the U.S, ranked at 53, but lower than countries like Norway, coming in at second place, and Namibia, ranked tenth.

Gender parity determines if a country’s economy or society will flourish.

Arguably, a truly equal world will be one in which International Women’s Day is not needed.

As of 2020, it was expected to take an average of 99.5 years to close the global gender gap. In a hundred years, reflecting on the history and recognizing women’s struggles will always be important but dedicating a day to working on gender equality will be unnecessary.

It has not even been a hundred years since women were not considered people. It was not until 1929 that women were considered people in Canada.

In many countries around the world, women still don’t have basic rights.

In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to apply for a passport without the permission of their ‘male guardian’. The World Bank reports women earn 60 to 75 per cent of men’s wages. In some parts of the world there are restriction the work women are allowed to do.

Right now, equality should be focused on every day, not just one day.

It is easy to live in Canada and look at how far gender equality has come but even in Canada, the wage gap, the glass ceiling and gender-based violence are still prominent issues.

Although International Women’s Day brings empowerment and a push for change, it makes women’s achievements something to capitalize on and commercialize. Businesses proudly tote their gender ratios and use female employees to highlight successes.

Meanwhile policies and social factors still make it hard for women to climb the corporate leader.

Liking a tweet or buying a t-shirt won’t bring equality.

Women’s issues and the push for gender equality need to be a daily conversation, not just highlighted one day a year.

So, ask future employers about hiring policies and what positions women currently hold. Ask companies if they employ gender-bias training. Ask about the pay gap. Question the status quo.

In the future, the goal is to be so far from a “man’s world” that future generations will question why International Women’s Day even existed but that day won’t come for another century.