NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Kelly Regan, Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Thursday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate our achievements and to take stock of our collective progress for women and girls in Nova Scotia.
This year’s theme is #MyFeminism, inspired by the role feminism has played and continues to play in shaping Canada and countries around the world. From early groundbreakers to today’s engaged citizens – #MyFeminism celebrates women, who inspire others through their courage and determination to realize positive change. You can add your voice to the conversation and tell us what feminism means to you.
This year, we are celebrating leaders in action – the Nova Scotian women who helped pave the way toward equality. The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women is using social media to feature some change makers, painted by Nova Scotia artist and writer Jo Napier. The Nova Scotia Nine can be viewed at http://women.gov.ns.ca/ns9 .
Equality is more than just rhetoric. It makes for a stronger Nova Scotia. Women and girls make up 51 per cent of Nova Scotia’s population. Over the last four years, we have seen more women in cabinet and Nova Scotia has gender parity on the provincial and family court. A province where women are safe and economically secure is a province that thrives. Our strong women leaders over the years have all worked hard to strengthen women’s opportunities and we will continue this work together for all Nova Scotian women and girls.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of women’s enfranchisement in Nova Scotia. From that first legal step on April 26, 1918, to our Indigenous sisters fully securing the right to vote in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, many committed feminist Canadians worked hard to solidify the right to vote.
There are some great examples of leadership in action today.
I am so inspired by the work of the Mi’kmaw Women Leaders Network. They came together to care for survivors and family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they prepared to share their truths with the national inquiry. During the hearings last fall, they wrapped a circle of support around everyone in Membertou, creating a safe space for all. Their thoughtful approach to caring for families before, during, and after the hearings has inspired other communities across the country.
I had the great pleasure of meeting the East Preston Young Women of Excellence who – together with their mentors, Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard and Dr. Laquita Porter – travelled to our nation’s capital this year to present to the Senate.
These young women are claiming their place in our provinces as leaders.
We’re also working to strengthen women’s advancement in the trades and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, through the Women Innovating in Nova Scotia Bursary. This opportunity is open to all women pursuing training in these fields at any of the NSCC campuses. For more information on the bursary, visit https://www.nscc.ca/admissions/scholarships_and_bursaries/student-awards/default.aspx .
This year, the Status of Women will once again host our popular Campaign School for Women on May 25-27. This important school has been the foundation for many of our leaders in action today. Please plan to attend and be part of tomorrow’s leadership by visiting http://women.gov.ns.ca/ .
Nova Scotia has grown and will continue to grow through the talents and contributions of everyone – women, men, girls and boys. Gender stereotypes hold us back.
This International Women’s Day, let’s pause to remember our important journey to equality, and think about how we can shape the road ahead together in our families, workplaces, and communities.