NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard.
October is Women’s History Month, an important time to remember women who helped to shape our present day lives.
As the old adage says, women hold up half the sky. Women in Nova Scotia, 51 per cent of our population, are important community builders. I want to recognize the province’s many women-serving organizations, which have been steadfast in addressing issues and supporting women and girls. Let’s celebrate our many accomplishments and honour those who worked hard to build a stronger Nova Scotia.
October is also Mi’kmaq History Month. I am honoured to stand with our Aboriginal sisters as we support the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women and Girls.
Tuesday, Oct. 11th, was International Day of the Girl, with the theme of Girls Speak Out. The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women partnered with the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, LOVE Nova Scotia and girls from Sipekne’katik First Nation to pilot the Peaked Cap Project, a Mi’kmaq approach to the United Nation Girls’ Roundtable. The girls spoke out by collaborating to create a beautiful video that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/OcQziFQK7wA .
This year is significant as we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first rights to vote being extended to some women, even as we recognize that it was not until 1960 that all women in Canada were able to vote.
Let’s remember Nova Scotian women who helped to shape our lives today through civic leadership, like Gladys Porter, the first woman to be elected mayor, and the first female member of the House of Assembly. Like many other women in our history, Gladys paved the way forward. For more on Nova Scotia women who helped to shape our province, I encourage everyone to read The Nova Scotia Nine, an exploration of impressive Nova Scotian women, at http://women.gov.ns.ca/ns9 .
Last week, government launched the Sexual Violence Strategy’s youth-focused public awareness campaign, Sexual Violence with the Birds and the Bees. We sought youth input and came up with an animated, modern twist on the popular metaphor to broach subjects like consent. Check it out at http://birdsandthebees.ca/.
The Sexual Violence strategy is one of government’s initiatives with a focus on women and girls. Other investments include establishing the Affordable, Quality Child Care Action plan, a plan that makes child care more affordable for families by investing in higher subsidy rates and investing to address historically low wages for early childhood educators, and supporting capacity building for transition houses, women’s centres and the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association.
We hope that you can join us as we walk for all Nova Scotia women at Silent Witness Nova Scotia’s Remember Me fundraising walk. The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women supported Silent Witness Nova Scotia and the Barbara Baillie family to develop Barb’s Bench, a commemorative bench program to honour women in Nova Scotia who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence. A bench will be dedicated just before the walk, on Oct. 22, at noon, in Shubie Park, Dartmouth. For more information on this and other walks across the province, go to www.silentwitnessnovascotia.ca.