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International Women’s Day march should celebrate all types of activism

Women helping women is one of the founding mandates of Women’s Post — and this comes in many shapes and forms in the world of activism.

International Women’s Day isn’t only a day to celebrate women, but is also a time to bring women, men, and children together to fight for equality and justice in a world that is often filled with rampant sexism, bigotry, and hatred. It is a time to stand up for what is right and feel empowered by the community of women that surrounds you. On a personal level, it is also a time to be proud to be a woman and shout it to the world.

The International Women’s Day March is taking place at 1 Kings College Circle in Toronto from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and connects several networks of like-minded individuals across the world to advocate for positive change for women. It is also an opportunity for women to support each other regardless of sexual orientation, race, or religion. The most integral and motivating element of fighting alongside women across the globe is that we are all affected by various types of hatred and must fight them together. We must support each other and show solidarity and unification against all types of hatred.

It also gives women involved in other types of activism an avenue to express their solidarity. Women in animal rights activism have organized to meet at the Women’s Day March to celebrate women fighting to make the lives of animals better. This protest movement comes in the wake of Toronto Pig Save Leader, Anita Krajnc’s trial, where she is being charged for giving pigs to water. The verdict is due to be released on May 4 and is greatly anticipated by protestors across the world. The pig trial has given even more reason for women to gather and unify to fight against perceived injustices towards animals. The solidarity of these women also demonstrates there is an intersectional connection between women’s rights and fighting against other types of hatred, and linking the two together inspires even more change at a societal level.

There are also many women who will be at the march to fight against islamophobia at the Women’s Day March. The alt-right movement has been heavily advocating islamophobic ideologies and the protestors at the march will also unify for our Muslim sisters to demonstrate that love is more powerful then hate. Needless to say, Kellie Leitch will not be invited. Advocating a LGBTQ friendly space is also essential to show the world that homophobia is not acceptable and this form of hatred will not be tolerated or accepted amongst women at the march either. Women’s rights issues are at the helm too with thousands of women walking off the job this week to protest pay inequality in the workplace.

Many groups that will be represented at International Women’s Day and this shows that the event is about advocating for women in many ways. It encompasses equality and justice against hatred and intolerance. Women deserve equal treatment across the board, and homophobia to anti-semitism to racism to speciesism must be destroyed. Only by unifying as a cohesive and unified whole can everyone together defeat the injustices that pervade the world we live in. Join the events on Saturday if you can and never forget to treat your fellow women with respect every day, because only though community and solidarity do we stand any chances of defeating the evils in this world.

Are Canadians investing in women?

March 8 is International Women’s Day. During this time, it’s easy to think back to all of the trials and tribulations women have experienced. Just last week, there was a tragic case in Halifax in which the victim of sexual assault was wronged thanks to an outdated definition of consent. There has been a large investigation into “unfounded” sexual assault cases by the Canadian police. And of course, there is the incredible sexism women are facing in the United States from their own politicians.

No, Women’s Post is not going to focus on that this March 8 (at least, not too much). Instead, Women’s Post is choosing to celebrate this important day by speaking with successful business women, gathering their advice for other women, and learning about who they invest in. Here is a teaser with some of the results:

 

Visit our women of the week page for profiles of successful Canadian women.

International Women’s Day – true leadership and journalist integrity

When I think about strong women, I think of women who have stayed true to their profession, who lead with integrity. As publisher of Women’s Post, it would be easy to simply trash men, to talk about women’s rights and the need for women to have more power. But it would be wrong.

Ethics are tools that help people stay true to the balance our society relies on to move forward. When that balance is shifted so that women or men gain too much power, our society as a whole suffers. I am proud that Women’s Post not only promotes the successes of women, but defends men from the attacks of women using their power unjustly.

In journalism, there are far too many writers who give way to sensationalism, who twist their words for political gain and twitter followers. This was obvious today, as I read Jennifer Pagliaro’s fiction in the Toronto Star where she writes “Tory proclaimed his transit priorities were SmartTrack and the Scarborough subway. He said SmartTrack would provide relief on the Yonge line while knocking Olivia Chow’s support of the relief line subway.”  This is so blatantly false that the writer in me screams foul.

I’m hoping that Pagliaro just hasn’t done her homework, because I hate to think that she might be attempting to use her platform as a journalist to twist the truth.

When John Tory was running for Mayor of Toronto, he came out in strong support of what he coined the “Yonge Relief” subway line.  I remember thinking how clever it was that he had changed the name from the downtown relief line to the Yonge relief line. By calling it a relief line for Yonge Street he was explaining to the public the actual function of the line – to offer riders from Scarborough and Etobicoke an alternative way of getting across the city.

That’s why I cringe today as I read Pagliaro’s words in the Toronto Star because it assumes that just because Tory suggested Smart Track that he was against the relief line, which is simply not true at all. If she were to do her homework she could have discovered that he has promoted the relief line for years. Pagliaro even suggests that Olivia Chow’s support of the relief line was authentic. As a transit advocate, I remember well that we could not get Chow to come out in support of the downtown relief subway line, because her loyalty was to Transit City and LRTs. Tory was constantly knocking her support of the relief line. When Chow came out claiming her love for the relief line all I could do was laugh and wonder if the journalists would notice/remember, or if naive young woman might fall for it —  indeed Pagliaro did.

When I ran for Mayor in 2010, I was very fortunate to have Mayor Tory’s two sons – George Tory and John Tory running my campaign. I’m not sure how big a role their father actually played, but I always had the feeling that he was quietly advising them. We decided to make the relief subway line a pivotal part of our campaign, because most transit experts insisted it was the highest priority line in the city. I remember going into a debate with John Jr. instructing me to answer every question with “the relief line or a subway.”  I balked when he told me he didn’t care if the question was about social housing, or land use planning — that I should answer “relief subway line” to every question or he would quit the campaign. And before I went up on stage he grabbed all my notes and told me I wouldn’t need them.

The next day all the papers were calling me “Subway Sarah” and I jumped to third place in the polls.  I was in absolute awe of the Tory boys and their father.

Back then reporters said our idea for the relief line was wishful thinking.  But over the years, as CEO of the Transit Alliance, my team and I worked to build awareness and support for the relief line, hosting many events in which John Tory would take part. He always spoke in support of the relief line, emphasizing it’s importance. Tory never gave up on the relief line, and that is why I wonder what Pagliaro is trying to do in her column?

International Woman’s Day is about the strength of women to lead within our society. We do this by staying true to ourselves, our profession, and each other. But yet again, I find myself defending a man against the political attacks of a woman who irresponsibly uses her stage to distort the truth.

Becoming a good journalist takes hard work. It isn’t easy to get beyond your personal assumptions and report the facts without bias, and in the world of twitter it is hard to avoid the temptation when given a global stage to write from. But a true journalist doesn’t take advantage of the stage they stand on. She does her homework, uncovers the truth, and writes the facts.

Today, critics are piling on Mayor Tory simply because he is willing to admit that a campaign strategy – Smart Track — may not be feasible. They forget that when he announced Smart Track during the campaign he insisted it was an idea, a vision, and that studies would be needed to see if it could work. They want to ignore the fact that Mayor Tory coined the term the “Yonge Street Relief line” and that he was one of the first to advocate for it.  I want to remind the Mayor of a great quote from Jean Sibelius: “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

Why do we need International Women’s Day?

When I tell friends that I am the editor of Women’s Post, the response is usually this:

“Wow, that’s amazing! So…what kind of stuff do you write/publish?”

I explain that I work for a publication that strives to be a platform for women, but our content doesn’t discriminate: Yes, I write about fashion and food, but I tend to focus more so on politics and business. Women’s Post also profiles women who have been successful in their industry of choice, and shares their knowledge with other women as inspiration or motivation.

At this point, I often get an apathetic “oh really” or “that’s interesting” response. Even worse is the condescending “That’s amazing that you are doing THAT type of work” reply — as if women as a group are in desperate need of guidance and support; as if they are incapable of being successful without the help of men; as if women, as a demographic, need an organization or a publication to advocate on behalf of their interests because they can’t do it themselves.

Let’s get one thing straight — I don’t believe that women NEED help to succeed. Women are just as capable as men — just as creative, intelligent, and hard working. The only thing standing in their way are archaic stereotypes and policies entrenched in this society that often prevent women from getting a) the jobs they deserve and b) the benefits and salary they deserve. What Women’s Post does is motivate women to fight for those simple rights.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is gender parity — a socioeconomic index used to measure access to education between men and women. According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity won’t be achieved until the year 2133. Only a year ago that number was 2095. Simply put, every year this gender gap is growing at a ridiculously fast rate.

As of 2015, only 25 countries have closed the gap in terms of “educational attainment.” Gender parity has been reached in the “university student” category, but not where skilled roles (75 per cent) and leadership roles (28 per cent) are concerned.

The 2015 Global Gender Gap Index did show a quarter of a billion more women have entered the labour force since 2006. This is great news, but at the same time the salary gap between men and women has increased from 5k to 10k. In fact, the average salary for women in 2015 equals the average salary for men in 2006!

I never really experienced sexism growing up, or at least that I noticed. Even through my early years at university, when my student union was screaming about equality, I thought they were making a big deal out of nothing. I had the same opportunities as my male friends. I never felt singled out as a woman or treated any differently than my male counterparts in the newsroom. Of course, I knew that in other parts of the world young girls couldn’t go to school and women weren’t allowed to work, drive, or venture outside unaccompanied by a man. But, sexism didn’t exist in Canada, right?

I was completely naïve in those days. Now, especially in this role, I’m able to see it all.  As Beatrix Dart, one of the women we’ve featured as a Woman of the Week, said in an interview, the stereotypes become blatantly clear once you become pregnant: “Suddenly, people make assumptions about you and suddenly all these gender barriers you’ve heard about kick in. They really exist.”

It’s also blatantly clear that violence against women is still rooted in North American culture. We’ve been seeing it in the media over the last year, following the trial of Jian Ghomeshi for alleged sexual assault and choking, and the treatment of celebrities like Kesha, who is fighting to be relieved of a contract with a producer she alleges abused her. Consent is still considered a contentious issue open to interpretation and women are constantly judged by their appearance instead of their intellect and worth as human beings. Now that my schoolgirl eyes have been opened, I find myself constantly shocked and disgusted with how my demographic is treated.

Canada is ranked 30 out of 145 countries in terms of gender equality, which is pretty great. But, this country can do better.  Society as a whole can do much, much better. All women should be given equal opportunity for education and employment, and should be treated with the same respect given to any man.

As our mission statement says, Women’s Post is a social enterprise designed to promote women and their initiatives across Canada. By providing mentorship, sharing knowledge, and giving women a platform to voice their opinions, Women’s Post hopes to show how amazing and ambitious this demographic can be if given the opportunity to grow.

It’s a worthy endeavour and I am proud to be the editor of this publication.

At the same time, I can’t wait until I live in a society where this type of work isn’t needed anymore. It’s too bad I probably won’t be able to witness it in my lifetime.

Five Toronto events to attend for International Women’s Day

It is time celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. Here are a few great events going on in the city that celebrate women athletes, politicians, comedians, musicians and women of distinction. Get out there and enjoy yourself — and remember ladies, stay proud and strong!

Daybreaker TO-International Women’s Day

Daybreaker is an international initiative to help people start their day by doing a new type of fun physical exercise. Daybreaker is launching an event at Basecamp Climbing Gym (677 Bloor St. W.) for an early morning dance party. Opening at 6 a.m for an hour long yoga session, a dance party will then follow until 9 a.m. The dance party will be hosted by female DJs and celebrates women worldwide. Breakfast bars and cold brew will also be provided at the event.

Toronto the Just: Stories of Women and the Struggle for Equality

This exhibit will feature the stories of eight local women who have challenged discrimination in the past or present day. Speakers will discuss social justice issues and the importance of female solidarity. The event is hosted by Heritage Toronto and Women in Toronto Politics. It is being run at St. Lawrence Hall (157 King Street East) from 6-8 p.m.

Stand up 4 Sistering II Daria Dance Party

Comedy bar (945 Bloor St. W.) will be hosting a Women’s Day bash showcasing popular women comedians. The line-up includes Dawn Whitwell, Natalie Norman, Lauren Mitchell and Chantel Marostica. All the proceeds from the event will be going to the charity Sistering, which helps women in need.

International Women’s Day Concert

The Mod Club (722 College St. W.) will be hosting an International Women’s Day concert that recognizes female artists including Tanika Charles, LAL, MC Nitty Scott and DJ Ariel. The R&B show is put on by The Academy.

YWCA announces Women of Distinction

The YWCA is announcing eight women of distinction for 2016 and will be hosting a discussion panel. The event will be held in the Lambert Room (54th Floor, 66 Wellington St. W) and is being hosted by TD Bank.