Does International Women’s Day have any meaning?

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Sabrina Almeida

Sunday is International Women’s Day. This year we are urged to join #GenerationEquality and become #EachforEqual. Drawn from ‘collective individualism’, the 2020 campaign for women’s empowerment believes that ‘together we can make change happen and should therefore each help to create a gender equal world’.

Powerful and inspiring thoughts requiring committed and continuous action!!!

Considered to be a focal point in the fight for gender equality, every year International Women’s Day highlights achievements in the workplace and community. Women-oriented events showcase role models to felicitate their courage and encourage others to join in the fight for the empowerment of females all over the world.

But amidst all the pink flag waving and cheering, it’s also a time to take stock of the real progress made in women’s rights.

With the UN reporting that one in three women still experience gender-based violence, it is obvious that change has been painfully slow. That’s why gender equality events and initiatives can’t be a feel-good one day or one week affair.

Although the number of girls being educated is up, so are global statistics for human trafficking and sexual abuse. In spite of the #MeToo movement, there are hundreds of victims still suffering in silence because they are afraid of the repercussions of speaking out. Girls and women are still victimized in their homes, on the street and in the workplace. These issues are also more localized than we would like to acknowledge.

Although we are horrified by India’s rape problem, the news that Peel Region has become a centre for human sex trafficking of young women is just as alarming. Current data shows Mississauga and Brampton are the hot spots and that 62.5 per cent of all court cases involving human trafficking in Canada originate in Peel. Furthermore, survivors tell us that victims are not necessarily from ‘troubled’ backgrounds as we prefer to believe but people we know. Facebook ads urging us to speak to our girls while they still listen are disturbing to say the least.

While social media offers an effective way to draw attention to the problem, it is also being used by traffickers to recruit and control victims. Between 2015 and 2018, the US National Human Trafficking Hotline documented almost 1,000 cases of potential victims of sex trafficking alone who were recruited through internet platforms, most often Facebook, but also Instagram, Snapchat, Craigslist, online dating sites, and chat rooms.

As gender-based discrimination and violence continue to be issues all over the world, there is much work to be done. Recent news from Japan, perceived to be a civilized country, shows domestic violence cases reached a record high in 2019.

At home, the explicit Greta Thunberg sticker linked to Alberta company X-Site Energy Services unearthed yet another ugly truth! Misogyny is very much alive. Not just in countries with a poor track record in women’s rights but in so-called progressive ones like Canada too.

And although there are civil and criminal consequences for revenge porn here, the problem is growing rather than abating.

The gender gap on the work front is also far from closed, especially for women of colour. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Report it will be a century before women the world over enjoy equal rights with men.

It is time all women realized that the fight is personal. Our individual actions, conversations and behaviors can have a positive impact on our larger society. It is up to us to build each other up by pushing back against gender discrimination in our homes, social circle and work place. We must collaborate, not compete and make it known that achievements are not based on physical attributes.

In other words, let’s show up for one another by helping women cope with gender bias in the bedroom, boardroom and wherever it rears its ugly head! -CINEWS

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