Uplift and Inspire: International Women's Day 2024

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of women, while also recognizing the history of gender inequality, and where it still exists in our society, and day-to-day lives.

Why Do We Need International Women’s Day?

It’s easy to look around, especially in Canada, and wonder why we still celebrate a day specifically dedicated to women’s history and gender equity. This is a valid question that stems from the many misconceptions about gender equity in Canada. Today we will be tackling some of the most common misconceptions.

First, some definitions:

Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Gender equality: a situation in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender.

Gender bias: a type of unconscious bias, where someone may stereotype or hold preconceived notions about other individuals based on personal or learned experiences.


Misconception 1: Women in Canada have been able to vote for a long time. Is there anything left to fight for?

Women in Canada have been able to vote since 1918. Actually, let’s rephrase that: Some women in Canada were awarded the right to vote in some elections by 1918. Here is an excerpt from the Government of Canada that gives you a better idea of how the right to voting came about, and who it did and didn’t apply to:

By 1918, all Caucasian women had the right to vote in federal elections…The last province to extend the right to vote in provincial elections to women was Quebec, in 1940. The Northwest Territories was the last territory, granting women the right to vote in 1951. Starting in 1947, the right to vote was extended to some minority groups, and in 1960, all Canadians were granted the right to vote, including Aboriginal men and women.1

A common mistake when looking at the history of women’s rights in Canada, is keeping the focus too narrow. Women’s rights were rolled out in a tiered system that had white women at the front of the line. Additionally, women’s right to vote was just one aspect of the suffragette movement, and the fight for gender equality has evolved since then to include advocacy of all kinds, like reproductive rights, anti-discrimination laws, political representation, access to education, the elimination of gender-based violence, and more.

Today, gender equality at its best is intersectional, which means it aims to uplift the voices of all gender diverse and LGBTQIA+ individuals and takes into account the additional barriers to equality that minority groups face.


Misconception 2: Women have equal opportunity in the workforce.

Despite social norms changing over time to reduce the stereotype of women being the primary caregivers and homemakers, stats show that the weight of household and family duties continue to disproportionately fall to women. According to a report by RBC, from 2020 to 2021 when families were adjusting to children attending school remotely during the pandemic, 10 times more women left the labour force than men.2

This, paired with the gender wage gap, results in limiting the opportunities and trajectories of women’s careers. A Labour Force Survey completed by Statistics Canada in 2023 found that men make 5% more per hour on average than women in the public sector, and almost 10% more in the private sector.3

Equality in the workforce goes beyond pay. Gender bias and lack of representation can affect what career paths women choose to pursue. In 2022, Statistics Canada found that only about 5% of skilled trades workers were women.4 We need to break stigmas around “gendered” jobs and uplift the voices of women in career paths like politics, trades, STEM, and more, so women and girls can have role models and make career decisions from an informed place of possibility, instead of limitation.


Misconception 3: Women aren’t affected by gender inequality at home.

Gender inequality at home can take many different forms, but perhaps the most insidious example of this is gender-based violence. A 2023 Statistics Canada report found that women and girls are disproportionately killed by someone they know, namely an intimate partner or a family member.5 In 2018, 44% of women reported experiencing some form of psychological, physical, or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.6

Violence against women and girls is rising every year. From 2019 to 2022 the number of women and girls killed by violence rose from 148 to 184. Intersectionality is at play here as well. For example, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than white women.7

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, find resources that will connect you to important information and local supports here.


Where do we go from here?

Finding actionable ways to advocate for gender equality is the best way to transform your discomfort into real change. Challenge gendered stereotypes and biases you come across in your daily life. Think about ways you can uplift the voices of women in your community. Talk to people in your life about why gender equality matters to you, and why it should matter to them. Volunteer your time with an organization that aims to support and uplift women, girls, and gender diverse individuals.

Here are some local organizations that are creating change in our community, and have resources where you can learn how to make an actionable difference:


         Safe Space

         London Abused Women’s Centre


It can feel overwhelming to see how far we still have to go as a country and as a society, but we know from examining our past that change is possible. Giving women and girls the chance to see role models, to have agency over their own lives and bodies, to feel safe and valued, to pursue their career of choice – these are just some aspects of gender equality that will make our homes, communities, and our world a better place to be – for everyone.

Join together with the community on March 8th in Victoria Park at 6pm for London and District Labour Council’s IWD gathering.




1.      https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/rights-women.html
2.      https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/covid-further-clouded-the-outlook-for-canadian-women-at-risk-of-disruption/
3.      https://globalnews.ca/news/10320571/gender-pay-gap-private-vs-public-sector-report/
4.      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/women-girls-skilled-trades-events-1.6606205
5.      https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2023001/article/00003-eng.htm
6.      https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210426/dq210426b-eng.htm
7.      https://femicideincanada.ca/callitfemicide2018-2022.pdf