Officially recognized by the United Nations in 1977, International Women’s Day emerged from women’s participation in twentieth-century North American and European labour movements. Since then, March 8 has become a global opportunity to recognize the many social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and girls, celebrate advancements in gender parity, and, importantly, participate in global a call to action. It is also an acknowledgement that gender inequality persists in Canada and internationally.
Today is an opportunity to celebrate and engage in discussions on gender equity and on how gender intersects with race, ability, and other identities. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World. Women have played an extraordinary role at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis as healthcare workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers, and leaders in combating the global pandemic. Women are also disproportionately impacted by the burdens of the pandemic, which have further intensified existing inequalities for Black, Indigenous, and racialized women and Two-Spirit, Trans, and nonbinary people.
U of T is committed to eliminating barriers for women and to centering gender equality. Providing responsive and meaningful supports for women to achieve their full potential requires listening and an understanding of the nuances of women’s differential experiences. We all have a role in ending systemic gender-based discrimination through education and the amplification of women’s diverse voices.
At the University of Toronto, the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre, Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion offices at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the University of Toronto Mississauga, and partners across our three campuses are leading ongoing initiatives that address gender-based discrimination. These offices provide services and education to our community. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need support.