Online exclusive: International Women’s Day

By Elyse Merriman

Half of the world’s population consists of females leaving an essential place for gender equality dialogue, not just in Canada, but globally.

In 1975, the United Nations declared Mar. 8 would be celebrated as International Women’s Day. Women’s Resource Centre executive director Stephanie Garrett stressed the importance behind the day.

“International Women’s Day is an event each year that was instigated by the U.N. on women’s rights, equality, and advocacy,” she said. “If we want women to advance, we need to have participation from both the public and private sector for this event. International Women’s Day is for everyone. There’s a focus on women and girls, but men are encouraged to take part. It’s an opportunity for men to recognize women. Some of [our] male allies take part in the event.”

The University of Calgary takes a more artistic approach to reaching out to the public in celebration of the day.

“U of C creates a space for women’s voices to be hard,” said Garrett. “We do fun activities with positivity, blank canvases for painting, drum circles, body casting­­–which takes the focus of the body off sexuality–women singers and artists.”

There are different aspects of women’s issues that the day can take and the U of C tries to touch on several areas.

“The themes [of International Women’s Day] are equality, celebration of women’s voices and experience and creativity,” Garrett said. “There’s an arts focus for expression through music, dance, song and visual images.”

Garrett believes there is a need for this type of day on campus.

“I believe that University of Calgary needs to move forward with recognizing women,” she said. “Campus is still a place where science is associated with men, and nursing is associated with women.”

It is not just the female population that is affected. Garrett stressed that gender equality is the main issue.

“Awareness is key–about issues faced by both genders–advocacy and gender equality,” she said. “Once students recognize women and men are socialized to different roles and granted access to different resources, we can move forward.”

Mar. 8 isn’t the only time of the year in which the U of C and the Women’s Resource Centre specifically recognize women.

“There are three days in which women are acknowledged,” said Garrett. “Those are International Women’s Day on Mar. 8, International Person’s Day on Oct. 18, and on the Dec. 6 Ecole Polytechnique Memorial.”

International Person’s Day is a day in which the Women’s Resource Centre grants distinction to people from the past and the present of the university.

“There are Diversity Awards given out on Oct, 18, given to an alumna, a student and a volunteer,” Garrett clarified. “They’re given on the basis of wisdom, resilience, compassion and trail-blazing for women. Traditionally speaking, U of C hasn’t taken a leadership role in recognizing women and [the Women’s Resource Centre is] trying to make that happen.”

Since the first International Women’s Day, people around the world have tried to improve women’s rights.

For more information, stop by the Women’s Resource Centre MSC third floor.

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