Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

Women, Yes You Can!

International Women’s Day was first observed in Canada shortly after the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8, 1977 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

When it was announced, I remember thinking “What’s the big deal, anyway?” I’d always assumed women were as good – or possibly even better – than our bigger, louder, compatriots. Then I recalled applying for a cleaning job back in 1972. It was for a Federal Government position.

The woman who interviewed me confided that there were actually two positions available on the application form – both for the same job. The one was categorized as “Housemaid.” The wages were 3 dollars and something per hour. The other was for the male equivalent: a position labelled “Janitor” for five dollars an hour.

I applied for the janitor job and was accepted.

Canada has come a long way since legislation was first passed in 1918 to allow women the right to vote. But there were a number of obstacles. In 1928 The Supreme Court of Canada- interpreting the British North American Act in light of the times in which it was written, ruled that women were NOT “persons” and therefore could not be appointed to the Senate.

In October 1929 an assembly of five Canadian women sailed overseas to appeal the case to the Judicial Committee of England’s Privy Council. The Council ruled unanimously that “the word ‘persons’ in Section 24 of the Act included both the male and female sex.…” Canadian women were eligible to run for political office, and to be appointed to the Senate.

In some countries where laws are rooted in religious tradition, women’s rights remain stuck in past centuries. Women cannot be seen in public- except when in the company of a man and draped in such a way as to hide their faces.
But to quote Bob Dylan: “Times they are a-changing.”

Last April there was a newspaper photo of a long line-up of Afghan woman waiting to cast their vote in an election. I was so impressed I wrote the following poem:
Women of Afghanistan

Women queued up to vote
Gather in great numbers despite
Threats from Taliban
Yes, they can!
Draped in hooded burqas, black,
Blue and muted colors
Courageous, collective stand
Yes, they can!
Like large birds, getting ready to fly
Voting in their own land
Women of Afghanistan
Yes, you can!!

And this year on March 15 there was a photo on Twitter of a group of Afghan men wearing burqas to support the rights of women.
Hurray, the Afghan guys are getting onboard!.

Comments on: "Women, Yes You Can!" (1)

  1. Awesome and informative _/|\_

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