International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month – A Canadian’s Take, and Give

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I feel happy at the advancement of women in the important areas of life: arts and culture, education, politics, science, and religion. In order of presentation: women in the arts and culture, from the Canadian perspective – that I know best and not even that well – which is, frankly, individual arts and culture incubators – both of which herald in new eras in Canadian society such as Alice Munro, Joy Kogawa, Lee Maracle, Margaret Atwood, Nellie McClung, and some others.

For specific sectors of Canadian society, women and girls have earned (e.g., Lee Maracle, whose narratives focus on Indigenous women and feminists), through hard work and hardship, the broad praise of the arts and culture community in Canada, especially the longstanding, prominent, and productive hands of Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, both of whom appear to garner respect and dignified approval outside of the borders of Canada. A mark of truly outstanding lives.

Some women, recently, up-and-coming such as Madeleine Thien, who won the prestigious Giller Prize, recently, come to the fore. As well, the intimate work written by Tracey Lindberg entitled Birdie, which tells another important Indigenous story. Arts and culture remains integral to the Canadian identity, which seems plural—dominated by some based on time and quantity of people with the history—and more, and more, diversified in voices.

Education remains another important domain of female, or women’s (a more personal and preferable term), achievement in this sweet country o’ mine. In the world, women tend to have fewer opportunities for education; and if chances for education, then fewer odds of advanced education without discrimination in it. Women and Education by Statistics Canada states:

Women have progressed considerably in terms of education and schooling over the past few decades. Just 20 years ago, a smaller percentage of women than men aged 25 to 54 had a postsecondary education…Education indicators show that women generally do better than men. This gap in favour of women is even noticeable at a young age, since girls often get better marks than boys in elementary and secondary school.

As well, more girls than boys earn their high school diploma within the expected timeframe and girls are less likely to drop out. More women than men enrol in college and university programs after completing their high school education. A greater percentage of women leave these programs with a diploma or degree.

Most Canadian praise this, and share concern for boys and young men in education—which seems like a valid, important concern in developed nations, but, in an international analysis of the issue—on International Women’s Day, Canada does well in the education of girls and women in contrast to other nations.

In politics, ‘because it was 2015,’ the Canadian Prime Minister instantiated both the tactical political and equality maneuver for the first 50-50 sex-split Cabinet in Canadian history. And, as far as I can discern, the first legacy Prime Minister–following in the cut brush of Pierre Trudeau, or his father—in Canadian history is the second Trudeau, the historic, and politically savvy motion, presented Canada to the world as a place of political equality.

When I think of science, some women exist in the history books, who seem less known—and I had to look some up, such as, in 1938, Elsie MacGill became the Chief Aeronautical Engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry where she was selected to assist in the construction of the Hurricane aircraft for the British Royal Air Force and Roberta Bondar with extensive training in neuroscience and medicine and selection for NASA based on the numerous academic credentials earned by her.

Lastly, religion, or irreligion for those so tended, Marie Morin was an exemplar. One women who was the first Canadian-born women that became a religious sister. In fact, she became a bursar and superior at Hospitalièrs of Montreal. Lois Miriam Wilson was the first president, who was a woman, of the Canadian Council of Churches. And to the famous Canadian atheists, many exist: Kathryn Borel, Patricia Smith Churchland, Wendy McElroy, Hannah Moscovitch, and, of course, the wonderful Reverend Gretta Vosper.

Whether arts and culture, education, politics, science, and religion, International Women’s day as one peak to Women’s History Month is an important reflection, and, from one obscure Canadian’s view, this appears praiseworthy to me.

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Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.

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