I am often reminded of Martin Luther King, who uniquely demonstrated that eloquence trumps bigotry, when researching Canada's earliest LGBT activists. They, like King, were at the forefront of a dramatic civil rights movement, making powerful and persuasive arguments for social justice in the face of sometimes brutal suppression.
Canada continues to make important strides toward more equality. But there are storm clouds on the horizon that endanger the continuing pursuit of true equality. What started as a legitimate change to bring about equality and transformation of how we viewed, treated and spoke about each other has now ossified into a rarely breached wall of silence, a silence reinforced by the onset of the West's indifference to its own good, bad or ugly -- but distinct -- societies, their values and norms. Call it white man's burden or guilt, a guilt for the sins of the past now manifesting itself in the white man's fear.
Women's organizations, governments and United Nations entities celebrated the 15th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325. This landmark resolution stated that women's participation, security and protection were essential in the prevention and resolution of armed conflict. This resolution was much heralded at the time and was followed by seven additional resolutions on women, peace and security. However, civil society organizations have observed again and again that these strong words have not been translated into action.
Nearly 90 per cent of girls tell Plan International that they have more opportunities in life than their mothers did. That's progress. But in developing countries, girls are twice as likely as boys to suffer malnutrition, and 63 million girls (many more than boys) don't attend school. Removing barriers to education, health care and other rights isn't enough. We need to focus on how girls can move beyond merely surviving, to thriving.
The wide-scale entry of women, especially those with young children, into the workplace has been called "one of the most profound changes in Canada in the past quarter century." The impact of this change is widespread and multi-faceted. One major aspect of the change is something researchers call the convergence of gender roles.
G(irls)20 brings together a group of carefully selected young women, "delegates", equips them with leadership and communication skills and gives them the opportunity to meet with leaders from government, business and civil society. This is an excellent way of empowering young women to help them realize their full potential.
This week, I'm celebrating Women's Equality Day and continuing the conversation when we not only talk about the issue of women's equality but how we can reach equality for all. This is also a time when we highlight some amazing women who shine a light on this issue and believe that we can get there.
Last week, a woman travellingon a Porter flight from New York to Toronto was asked to move to another seat to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man. The woman was very upset. She said that the man never looked at her nor spoke to her. It may be rare for Porter Airlines, but our public schools, like our airplanes, trains, busses, theatres and other public venues are facing a an increase in such requests.
Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to bring about positive change for women in science. Two recent events involving senior, highly-regarded scientists demonstrate the growing importance of social media as a catalyst for change in science. It is time for the media to pay more attention to those scientists, who happen to be women, and who are woefully under and mis-represented in all media. Women in science all around the world have found a common voice that has never existed before, on this scale or in this form.
I remember so distinctly staring around at the room of Toronto Star editors and the people around me, including my own fellow interns, and I remember the exact moment of realizing that everyone in that room, except me, was white. I often believe its all too easy when you exist as a member of the "other," like a minority community like ours, for someone to cling to the idea of being the "first one," the "only one" and achieve what they can in the world for themselves and then go home with the pride of that recognition and nothing else. What if instead of believing there are limited seats to the table, we all chose to add more chairs?
Why hasn't my Facebook feed filled with at least the same level of indignation about our government's disgraceful treatment of our Veterans as it was about the a tobogganing hill? We must learn to calibrate our anger so it's proportional to the injustice or slight. Let's fight for the things that make life fun for us like tobogganing while also fighting the things that make life miserable such as payday loan companies, multinational corporations, venture capitalists, a failed War on Terrorism and the self-serving hacks in the media and government who enable it all.
David Letterman recently hosted Parks and Recreation actor Aziz Ansari on his show who beautifully summed up what it means to be a feminist. I think even those Hollywood girls who won't call themselves a feminist will agree with this analogy: "You're a feminist if you go to a Jay Z and Beyoncé concert and you're not like, 'I feel like Beyoncé should get 23 per cent less money than Jay Z. Also I don't think Beyoncé should have the right to vote and why is Beyoncé singing and dancing -- shouldn't she make Jay a steak?"
It's everyone's right to have an opinion. But here is what bothers me: they've got the wrong definition. They are basing their judgment of me, my beliefs and on feminism as a whole, on inaccurate information. What I am calling for is a re-education of women, and men, across North America. If you take a look at feminism's goal (one more time: equality!) and still want to tote a sign that says, "I'm an anti-feminist," I suppose that is your prerogative.
As an evolved species, we can do better than repeating the same patterns of discrimination that feed into a looping and segregating cycle. Let's lay out all issues on the table, educate, and not stamp prejudice onto those who suffer greatly for various other reasons because they fit in with the white/ straight/ rich categories.
As I find myself on the eve of World Pride weekend, making plans to march in the parade with my partner, my son and step-daughter, and their dads, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that it has been almost a quarter of a century since I came out. Our children are in Grades one and three. They love all of their moms, and my parents are thrilled to be grandparents -- to not one but, now, two kids. I continue to be an advocate, although today it takes different forms. Today, my girlfriend and I dream about getting married in the backyard of our home. I will get married because now I want to. And now I can.
Last week I was speaking about rights and freedoms to a high school law class. I asked the students if they could think of any laws that had changed in their life time. They knew that the alcohol limits for driving had changed. But when it came to changes that had brought about legislation against racial, gender, and other discrimination, they had to be reminded or even simply informed.
The truck driver tells us to trust him (apparently, this was enough for us to believe that he wasn't a serial killer) and opens up the back of the truck. And of course, anytime the back of a truck opens, you're obliged to look in. Sure enough, costumes. An abundance of them, along with heels I made sure to take note of and purchase later on.