This year's International Women's Day theme, "Equality for women is progress for all," spilled over into an impassioned conversation or all-out fight about male roles in feminism and women's health. In short, whether we like it or not, men hold considerable power over women and our sexual relationships.
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.
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.
Like many women, I've been cycling through birth control methods like prophylactics, "the pill," "the shot," baby roulette -- which is exactly what it sounds like, and now NuvaRing for more than half my life. Women who delay having children could be on one form of birth control or another for up to 20 years or more. For those who opt out of motherhood altogether, birth control may only end when menopause begins. Really? These are our options?
Higher stress levels are linked to more disagreements with lovers, an erotic deterrent of the highest level. In fact, in order to engage with another person on any intimate level we need to perceive enough safety. This safety helps us feel sexual arousal and bonding with our partner due to the release of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.
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.
We wouldn't ignore our car's gas light for days or weeks at a time. In the very least, we wouldn't be surprised if our ignorance of the warning light resulted in our car being side-lined because we had run out of fuel. So why do we treat our most precious asset, our health, with the disregard afforded to that old clunker, hand-me-down car.
"We Don't Need An Excuse" is not about attacking Maria Kang. It goes well beyond her and focuses on the "No Excuses" movement. It's about realizing that we all walk different paths and have different challenges. We are all worthy and we are all valid. No one needs to give any excuses. I think that's the inspiration I'd like to get on board with.
Being healthy includes living an active lifestyle and eating a variety of foods in moderation, but being healthy will look different for different people. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could actually see more than one version of a fit body represented in the media? Instead we're bombarded with image after image perpetuating the myth that the skinniest women are always the fittest and the men with the most muscles are always the strongest.
A piece titled "Why Chivalry Is Dead, From a Man's Perspective," tweaked me. The thing about the norm is, it changes. All the time. It evolves. Personally, ladies of my life, I will continue to hold the door for you, I will continue to bring you soup when you have a cold, and I will always strive to do something nice for you just because it's a Wednesday. And yes, I'd like to treat you to dinner. But I won't do it for the sake of some outdated ideological battle and I won't do it just because you're a woman.
Women can begin experiencing symptoms anywhere between the ages of 39 - 51 and they can last for at least 5 years or more. The most common symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, sleep disturbances, forgetfulness and fatigue. Sounds great? Not exactly. But you must remember that menopause is not an illness nor does it mean it's all downhill after this.
What I learned as I stared down at that scale was the lesson, the empowerment and the health legacy I had been searching for without even recognizing the significance as it unfolded around me. I wasn't running, stretching and eating healthy food because it would result in a particular weight, I was pushing myself to set an example.
As the primary breadwinner for my family, I worked full-time. I had two baby girls 18 months apart. In each case, I continued working until the day before I gave birth and returned to work a mere six weeks after. I committed myself to nursing my babies, even when I had to resort to expressing milk on the road.