To the women and girls in Calgary, I applaud you and hope you take a moment to celebrate one another today. Take a moment, too, to celebrate that you’re making it through another day, despite the bombardment of headlines that remind you what it’s like to be a woman in 2017
There’s the University of Calgary Wildrose on Campus group that claims “feminism is cancer”. There are the stories of bullying and sexual harassment that went without discipline within the Calgary Police Service for years, and more are coming forward. There’s the gender wage gap, that reminds women they are less likely to earn as much as men throughout their careers, but that as they age, they’ll have even less income to live on because they live longer than men do! And what about the story of the taxi-driver being acquitted of sexual assault in Nova Scotia?
And then there was the news about the harassment and threats that Premier Rachel Notley received on a more-than-daily basis since she was elected leader of Alberta’s Government. Remember that story? She is the holder of many exceptional titles, but “Alberta’s most threatened Premier” is one I’m sure she would rather not have.
On the rare bad day, these stories make me want to cry. But most other days, these headlines make me want to forge ahead, believing that it doesn’t have to be this way. That enough is enough, and women are entitled (yes, entitled) to the same space that men hold -- nothing more, and nothing less. And when women seek out those spaces, the headlines will start to change.
That’s why I’m running for City Council. Because as I watched the American elections in November, stunned by the results, a decision had been made for me. I couldn’t not speak up publicly about my experiences as a working mother, born and raised in a city that I love. And if more women occupy those seats in Council Chambers, then young women who want to prove the headlines wrong will see that they too can be in politics and on Police Commissions and in positions of leadership if that’s what they want. But they won’t want it, if they don’t even know it’s available to them.
So on this International Women’s Day, though the challenge may feel more epic than it has in some time, celebrate the ways in which women are pushing back. Look to Saskatoon, where women councillors now outnumber men on City Council. To the recently introduced Bill 2 to increase time limits for victims of sexual and domestic violence to file civil suits against their abusers. And to initiatives such as Ask Her, for opening the door to invite 20 women to put their names on the ballot for Calgary’s municipal election!