In Honour of the Women In Our Lives

This Friday is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the progress made thus far for women’s equality and emancipation. But the work is far from done and IWD should also serve as a reminder that we, as a society, still need to work to ensure that gender equality continues to progress. For example, while much progress has been made in shifting society’s perspectives on gender divisions in the workplace, how much have we altered our cultural expectations of the female aesthetic? What makes a woman ‘beautiful’ or ‘desirable’? To what extent do we tie a woman’s value to how she appears aesthetically? Most importantly, what message is this sending to young girls and women about how they’re valued in society? Miss Representation, a 2011 documentary, seeks to address these issues of female misrepresentation in the media and how it has led to under-representation of females in positions of influence and power in society. Although a screening of the documentary at U of T has just passed, it’s a fitting documentary to take a look at, either alone or by arranging a screening, in honour of IWD (it's available for borrowing from Robarts!). However, there are a number of events taking place on campus on March 8. Green Dot is hosting Dissolve, a one-woman performance about what can go wrong on a night out on the town, to raise awareness about drug-facilitated sexual assault. Although sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of gender, women have traditionally been, and continue to be, particularly at risk. Another interesting event to consider attending is a one-hour lecture by Dr. Faye Mishna, a leading U of T expert, on women's rights in the cyber world.

Regardless of whether or not you attend an event on IWD, I encourage taking this Friday (and the rest of the month) to acknowledge, celebrate, and appreciate the women in your life. At the same time, let’s think of ways that we can continue building on the foundations and progress that have been made thus far in achieving gender equality on campus and, more largely, in society. And for the girls out there, here’s some encouragement from my homegirl Alicia Keys to keep changing the world:

“We got our head in the clouds,

And we’re not coming down.”

Is there a female that you admire?  Feel free to share in the comments! - Vivian

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