Women’s History Month promotes equality

(Graphic by Steph Truong)

As Women’s History Month marks its 20th anniversary, Canadian citizens are being inspired to look at the future rather than the past.

Beginning in 1992, the month of October was chosen to celebrate women’s history, as it commemorated the judicial decision that arose from the “Persons Case” on Oct. 18, 1929.

Known as the “Famous Five,” these women took their objective of having Canadian women appointed to the Senate to what was then the highest court of appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. After much debate, women were declared as “qualified persons.”

Wilfrid Laurier University history professor Cynthia Comacchio recognizes the historical relevance for women’s history, but also maintains that there is still much more that needs to be done to achieve equality in today’s politics.

“This was a historic breakthrough for Canadian women, but the reality is that they are still very much a minority in politics and certainly in the Senate, which continues to function by appointment only,” Comacchio said.

“Senators are chosen with great care by Prime Ministers and their consultants, the appointments are usually partisan and consequently reflect the minority of Canadians who are wealthy and influential, who also remain, to this day, mostly white men.”

Comacchio added that the creation of Women’s History Month draws attention to the fact that Canadian citizens have to create such an event to celebrate and promote the encouragement of women in Canada.

The month of October is meant to be an empowering reminder that women have a greater sense of entitlement than in the past.

“We won’t ever really make strides toward gender equality at every level unless we encourage young women to take up the torch and lead, as they are fully capable of doing and fully entitled to do,” Comacchio said.“This is a global concern, not just a Canadian one.”

Recognizing this, the world’s first “International Day of the Girl” was declared for Oct. 11, 2012. This day aspires to improve the lives of girls and young women.

Founder of non-profit organization Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, Alaina Podmorow was named the Honourary Youth Ambassador for the event.

The Government of Canada led the international community in establishing this day. The event means to teach women in Canada that they now have the resources to becoming leaders in Canada today.

The theme of Women’s History Month 2012 celebrates the leadership roles that girls and young women have played throughout our country’s history.

Molly Murphy-MacGregor, executive director and co-founder of National Women’s History Project, spoke of the role of women changing in the last twenty years.

She believes that women’s roles in society have had such a great impact because society had been informed.

“People’s ideas of who women are have changed dramatically,” Murphy-MacGregor said.

“You give people more information, you give people more role models you let them know what women have done in their lives and how they have been partners with everything that has happened to make this society move forward.”

Murphy-MacGregor also put a big emphasis on young women today campaigning for the rights of women, as they have the access and the tools to ensure that women continue to have a place in society.

“You have your whole life to make sure that movement goes on,” Murphy-MacGregor added.

“There is pressure on young people because they have a lot more time. They also have a lot more expectations and a sense of how things should be fair today.”

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