Although the campaign execution and commitment to girls is grand, I was disappointed that of all the words chipping away at our self-esteem everyday, that "bossy" was being sentenced to exile by powerful and recognized women. Unfortunately for all of us, banning words only mutes the systemic and cultural norms that are actually responsible for social inequalities.
For starters, the word "bossy" is just one in an endless list of putdowns directed at women who look to stand out from the crowd. Know-it-all, controlling, pushy; all words meant to discourage someone who gravitates towards leadership. Is the next step to ban all these words as well? Instead of fighting an unwinnable battle to eliminate words, we should be promoting their antonyms.
Although the unanimous vote in the House of Commons to create the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women (the "Committee") was an excellent beginning, the report it tabled last Friday was a complete betrayal of the memory of those we have lost, the grieving family and friends left behind and those Indigenous women and girls who continue to be victimized by violence. The Prime Minister is on the wrong side of history.
As an adolescent girl, I was awed by the notion of becoming an adult woman. Like Margaret in Judy Blume's classic coming of age novel, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret," I was obsessed with all the details, particularly menstruation, and on a semi-conscious level hoped that there would be some sort of fanfare when the momentous time came.
A recent study found executives of both sexes consider the tension between work and family to be primarily a women's problem. The official theme for International Women's Day 2014 is "equality for women is progress for all." Let's do exactly that by supporting progressive policies for women, and new opportunities for men and families.
Most of us don't take the time to take stock of our lives -- to sit back and reflect because we have a 1,001 things going on and we are distracted. Who really has the time to hit the pause button and reflect on their lives when career, kids, and household demands trump our waking moments, thoughts and activities?
Tuesday's sentencing of anaesthesiologist George Doodnaught -- to a decade in jail for sexually assaulting 21 women under his care during surgery -- should have been good news. But I read this comment from the presiding judge: "There are no reported Canadian cases in which an anaesthesiologist sexually assaulted sedated patients in an operating room during surgery." This has happened before, and in my home town.
Canadians may be shocked to learn that there are no long-term, publicly-funded residential care facilities in Canada. Wait times for treatment are so long that many Canadians with eating disorders are forced to go abroad for private health care, and return with little follow-up care. It is time that a national eating disorders awareness and education campaign be launched, and that Canada develop a national strategy to address these serious mental health conditions, including early diagnosis and access to the full range of necessary care, a national registry, and a robust research program.
"Feminist" is an unavoidably loaded word. If we asked a group of parents if they believe in raising children that are respectful of both men and women, and who believe in equal opportunity, we suspect the answer would be overwhelmingly, "of course." Ask that same group if they believe in raising feminists, and the response may be slightly more hesitant.
Now when someone fixes my collar or warns me about the lipstick on my teeth before I go on TV, I'm only a little mortified; mostly I'm grateful. Because they aren't trying to attack who I am or tell me I'm not good enough. They're trying to help me get my point across by helping me clear away distractions.
Canadians should know that early and forced marriage is not just an issue of developing countries. For example, recently there were 100 documented cases in Ontario, involving young girls who left Canada and were forced to marry. We need real action, an area where this government often stumbles badly.
I'm not personally a proponent of cohabitation before marriage. If you asked for my advice, I'd tell you not to. There's plenty of empirical research out there to suggest that it might not be the greatest idea. But you don't need to reduce men to sex-starved lunatics (or women to desperate shells who will whither and die if they don't get a ring) to get your point across.
Seriously, I dare you to go find a "sad-looking" girl and say something "kind" to her. People, anyone, should not be imposing their opinions on what "sad" is on poor random girls who are probably not even sad anyway. Talk about narcissism. What makes you think anything you have to say to a woman you are guessing is sad would make any difference to her?
I honestly can't think of a major religion that forbids men from meeting in public with a group of women. And honestly, if this restriction existed, how would you even function in the world? Regardless of whether the student's request is legitimate, let's talk about the fact that certain people quite high up in the university's food chain were willing to grant the accommodation that the student was seeking. A secular university -- I seriously cannot stress that point enough -- was more than willing to make an exception based on a religious belief that women were ultimately so different from men that the two genders could not interact in public.
As we gather with family and friends across our great country to celebrate the end of 2013, and as we look forward to a more hopeful 2014, let this be a New Year focused on Canadians, and not on political drama and scandal. And let parliamentarians work to ensure a brighter future for all women in Canada. Women's help and ideas are needed to see what Canada can do better to increase the participation of women in our economy, to ensure their health and safety and that of their children, and to build a better life for all Canadians.