INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Initiated in the early 1900s as a call to action for women’s rights working in factories, it quickly evolved into a universal movement for women’s rights in recognition of women’s achievements. Many nations now celebrate International Women’s Day as a way to highlight gender inequity and seek progressive actions for women’s rights.

International Women’s Day knows no race, culture, identity, ethnicity or borders; it is a day to acknowledge a woman’s identity. It celebrates sisterhood and promotes strength through diversity.

International Women’s Day provides us an opportunity to raise unity in our community. It is an opportunity to revel in the diverse voices of our women — the pillars of our community. When we come together in a safe space and share our narratives, it allows us to grow as one city with many voices. Women from varied cultures creating meaningful connections and relationships in turn foster a close-knit and stronger community for all.

Thunder Bay celebrated International Women’s Day with a Solidarity March highlighting the gender inequality still prevalent in Canada. The Lakehead Gender Equity Centre celebrated with an event to envision a future that is accessible to all women. Paro held an event that highlighted the women leaders and their personal journeys. These events enabled women to gather, share their testimonies, and create a platform to raise voices to inspire other women as they continue to thrive in Northwestern Ontario.

Through respect for diversity, we create a better, more inclusive and prosperous Northwestern Ontario. Let us make room for all women to sit at our tables and ensure we always create space and listen to Indigenous, immigrants and women of colour whose voices are often lost or ignored.

International Women’s Day is truly successful when we foster inclusivity, diversity and champion women leaders. When we champion women leaders, we encourage a community that advocates for equal opportunity and gender equality. Collectively, we must work every day to be inclusive.

Chloe Poulin is a project co-ordinator at Paro Centre for Women’s Enterprise. She leads the women’s leadership project and works closely with the city’s leaders in Women in Politics. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.

The Thunder Bay Anti-Racism and Respect Advisory Committee and Diversity Thunder Bay produce this monthly column to promote greater understanding of race relations in Northwestern Ontario.

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