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March 08, 2021

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day, and the theme for this year is #ChoosetoChallenge. 

A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let's all choose to challenge.

I challenge everyone to change the language and words used to describe women, and in doing so, change the narrative and stereotypes given to women from when they were children.

As a proud mother of two daughters, it is increasingly important that our daughters feel empowered by words, not diminished. And if you are raising boys and husbands, the onus is on everyone to challenge these norms. Words matter.

A woman is not being difficult if she asks for clarification or questions the status quo;
We are not high-maintenance when we value details or specifics.
If we are too kind or understanding, we're defined as soft, and,
shy if we're being reserved or private.

And, this one gets me all the time, little girls and women are not bossy; what you mean to say is assertive, with leadership qualities or driven. 

I have been called most of these names, and some of these words have also been used to describe my daughters -- until this feisty powerhouse mama bear put a stop to it. In fact, I'm counting on my girls to be inquisitive, critical, and bold, all the while being fair, honest and kind. We can.

See, we can be passionate and still compassionate. We can be strong and quiet. We can be sweet and sarcastic, questioning and understanding. We can be brave while struggling, challenging and opinionated.

Words matter.

We have come a long way, but there is still much work to be done -- and this is just a small part. There continue to be inequities in the workplace, gender stereotypes and the number of women in leadership positions remains far lower than those held by men. And of course, women of colour, visible minorities and indigenous women face even greater scrutiny every day. In parts of the world, women are still considered "less than", and while this isn't something I face on a daily basis, it can't be ignored, either.

To all the women in my life who have paved the way, shattered ceilings and worked so we would be where we are today, thank you. I will do my best to continue that work so our daughters and sons live in a more equitable and fair world. And to my colleagues and friends, those who continue to change the narrative and those who stand up, thank you. You inspire me and give me strength every day. 

Happy International Women's Day.

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