International Women's Day, taking place on Saturday, March 8th has been observed since the early 1900's, a time when women had very few rights and very defined roles within society. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change, International Women’s Day was used to bring attention to the issues being faced by women around the world. Since this time, significant changes have occurred in women's and society's attitudes and thoughts about women's equality and emancipation.
Today with more women in executive positions, greater equality in legislative rights and an increased number of female role models in every aspect of life, women are approaching true equality. Due to this, International Women’s Day, whose theme in 2014 is “Inspiring Change”, is becoming more of a celebration about the progress made by women. Unfortunately, many women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics and globally women's education, health and violence against them is worse than that of men.
In political roles, women bring different skills, views and perspectives, helping ensure decisions being made are fair, more inclusive and better for all of us. Currently, Prince Edward Island is in eighth place among Canadian provinces with regards to the percentage of women in Cabinet, in addition only 29.8% of municipal councilors are women. Statistics show that PEI voters are not discriminating against women at the polls, actually in past elections women have been more likely to win over men.
The Town of Stratford is actively working toward a community where every person is respected and has the opportunity to reach their full potential. In support of this, Stratford has enthusiastically agreed to take part in a project titled Equity and Inclusion in our Cities; Strengthening the Gender Equality Practices of Cities through an Intersectional Model. Headed up by the City for all Women Initiative, originating in Ottawa, the project aims to strengthen the capacity of municipalities, women leaders, and community agencies to address diversity, equity and inclusion. Stratford was selected along with the City of Vancouver, the City of Toronto and the Region of Peel to participate in the creation of a community equity and inclusion lens and the development of a “How to manual” to guide municipalities in the implementation of the Lens for their own circumstances. This Lens will enable communities to be efficient, consistent and coherent in their efforts to promote equity and inclusion.
“We are pleased that efforts by the Town of Stratford in the area of Diversity and Inclusion have been noticed by this National organization and have therefore invited us to take part in this opportunity,” said Mayor Dunphy. “Learning more about and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives such as this is an important part of building the best community possible.”
One Stratford staff member will travel to Ottawa at the end of May to participate in a two day orientation and reflection session and will also participate via email and video conferencing to inform the creation of the “How To” manual.