March 8th is International Women’s Day. On this day, there is a global initiative to recognise the value of women in the workforce.
International Womens’ Day is celebrated differently around the world. In Italy yellow mimosas are given to women on this day. In some other countries flowers and chocolate are gifts to recognize mothers, sisters and friends. It is an official holiday in some countries.
This year, 2017, women are being celebrated for their contributions to the workforce.
In the early 1900s, women were unhappy about their work conditions in the textile and garment factories they worked in. It started mainly in Russia, New York and parts of Europe and continued to expand to other countries as well. It was clear that women wanted a change in the workplace. They wanted to be treated equal to the men and be paid a decent salary.
In 1975 the United Nations declared March 8th the official “International Womens’ Day”. Throughout the past forty years International Womens’ Day in Canada has been celebrated by special events honouring women.
Some notable Canadian Women:
Jennie Trout- the first woman MD to practice medicine in Canada in 1875. She opened the Women’s Medical College in Kingston, Ontario in October 1883.
Nellie McClung- known as Canada’s suffragette, was an activist and public speaker. In 1914 she led a group petition to the Manitoba government for the right to vote for women. In 1929, as part of the “Famous Five” , she appealed to the British Privy Council to accept the legal definition of a “person” to include persons of female gender.
Agnes MacPhail- in 1921 she was the first woman elected to the federal government
Gabrielle Roy- in 1947 the winner of several prizes for literature was the first woman to become a member of the Royal Society of Canada.
Charlotte Whitton- in 1951, in Ottawa, became the first female mayor of a Canadian municipality
Rosemary Brown- in 1972 was the first Black woman elected to be a member of a Canadian parliamentary body. She served in the BC legislature until 1986. She then became professor of Womens’ Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU)
Roberta Bondar- in 1992 became the first female astronaut launched into space aboard the shuttle “Discovery”
Kim Campbell- in 1993 became the 19th Prime Minister of Canada and the first female to hold this post.
Angela James- in 2010 she was the first Canadian woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for winning four gold medals in world championships in the 1990s.
These are just a few of the incredible women who have contributed to Canadian society and who have become mentors for future generations of women.