Thinking about International Women’s Day can leave me feeling pretty angry. Not because I don’t support the day or what it stands before, but because I do.
There’s a lot of wrong in the world, and a lot of it is done towards women. From misogynist sentiment on our own campus, to the attack on reproductive freedom in the U.S., to issues far more urgent and terrifying in less privileged countries, it can feel like there’s just too much to fix.
Where do we even start? How as an individual can you possibly make a change? It’s overwhelming.
The frustration of knowing we can’t fix it all in an instant can be very disheartening. But this year I’m challenging myself, and I’m challenging you, to remain optimistic.
We’ve come a long way.
The status of women has changed so much even in the last 20 years, and we can’t forget that. Although those who still speak against women are loud, they’re an ever-shrinking group. For every voice of discrimination, a chorus of women and men shout louder.
When one cop speaking at York University suggested women should dress differently to prevent rape, a worldwide movement came together. SlutWalks have stretched from here in Toronto to New Delhi. Rush Limbaugh’s wildly inappropriate choice to call a pro-contraception woman a slut and prostitute was met with a wave of advertisers withdrawing their airtime. Invasive abortion law changes in the U.S. have inspired those who support a woman’s right to her own body to take to the streets.
The fight is far from dead, but it’s also far from hopeless. Do not let the vastness of our challenges prevent you from trying at all. This International Women’s Day, I challenge all of you to just do one small thing to better the lives of women.
You could donate $5 to Plan Canada. You could think twice before making a negative comment about a woman’s appearance. Choose not to be silent when someone makes a discriminatory comment, even if they didn’t mean to. Attend an International Women’s Day event at Ryerson (read more in our Communities section).
Call your mom, aunt, sister, grandma, whoever and tell her what makes her awesome. Look in the mirror and realize that you are good enough just the way you are. You can’t save the world on March 8, but you can change the day of one woman, whether it’s yourself, a friend or a family member.
Empowering yourself closer to home makes the larger struggles seem just a little bit smaller, a little more fixable. The next step, of course, is to carry that through the rest of the year. But if this Thursday is what you need to get started, that’s alright with me.