In March, we marked International Women’s Day and challenged ourselves to achieving an equal future. In many ways, the global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps that we need to close together as quickly as possible. As we see the ways in which COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted women economically, we should realize how important it is to take intentional actions supporting women. Appropriately, this year the United Nations declared the theme for International Women’s Day to be Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.
I’d like to recognize and thank the women who have been elected to public office and are leading in government at all levels, as well as the many women community leaders committed to making a difference. On March 8th, a City Hall display celebrating a century of women in Winnipeg civic government was unveiled. This project was led by Speaker of Council Devi Sharma, and I appreciate her taking the time to put together this important initiative. History highlights the growth we’ve made in increasing representation and diversity, but we are very far behind where we should be.
In 1921, Winnipeg’s first woman City Councillor, Jessie Kirk, was inaugurated. Since then, there have been 33 women who have served on Winnipeg City Council. In our history, Winnipeg has seen over 450 men serve in the same role. This is an enormous gap. Similar gaps exist in many other sectors, including business and science. It is our collective responsibility to make progress. We should elevate more examples of women trailblazers. To read more about Councillor Jessie Kirk, visit this page https://winnipeg.ca/ourstories/2020/201203.stm and to learn more about the display unveiled at City Hall, click here: https://winnipeg.ca/ourstories/2021/210308.stm.
As joyful as it is to see women celebrated like this on International Women’s Day, progress cannot be made unless we take every day as an opportunity for positive change. While it’s important to dedicate a time in our calendar to mark the progress we’ve made and reflect upon the road ahead, our actions should be year-round. In short, every day is women’s day. I know this has been said by many people, and I strongly align with that sentiment.