A New Dawn is Calling for a Much Faster Game

women-are-setting-the-bar-higher-new-resizedThe solutions we seek will not be found – fast enough – if we, as women, continue to work in the way we have in the past.  There’s work to be done differently, and that difference begins now.

Well we made it through election week, and it’s quite likely that many of us doubted that we would after the results.  But we did.   And now the question begs to be asked:  What next?

The first thing I did after the election was to find a way to shift my perspective of the outcome.  I knew there was nothing I could to change it, and the only thing I could change was my reaction to it.  And so I did.  Here’s what helped:

First, imagine the outcome had been different.  Let’s just say, our woman won.  Would we risk the possibility of high-fives all around, shouts of glee “We did it!” and smug looks?  Would we risk feeling that in fact ‘we made it’, ‘we were there‘?  Would we risk the possibility of sitting back on our laurels, shifting into neutral and potentially coasting for a while?  After all, we had won!  And don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that such feelings are unwarranted.

Yes it’s been a tough haul.  The dial has moved slowly. Very slowly.  Over the past 100 years, Canadian women have battled fiercely for their rights and equality.  Here are some notable accomplishments to keep in mind:

  • The right to vote.  Women in BC were granted the right to vote in provincial elections in 1917.  In 1920, the federal government made it universal.  However, some immigrant groups and Aboriginals were not included in this decision.  It wasn’t until 1960 that Aboriginals were granted the right to vote in federal elections.
  • The right to compete.  It was in 1928 that women were granted the right to compete in the Olympic Games.
  • The right to gender equality.  In 1945, the UN recognizes gender equality as a fundamental human right.  At this time fewer than 4% of married women work outside the home.
  • The right to equal pay.  In 1956, Canada enacts equal pay legislation.
  • The right to lead. In 1957, Ellen Louks Fairclough became the first woman appointed to serve Federal cabinet.
  • The right for Aboriginal women to vote.  In 1960, First Nation’s women were granted the right to vote in Canada.
  • In 1962, the minimum legal age to marry in Canada is set at 18 years of age, 18 (or 16 with parental consent).
  • In 1965, the Criminal Code is amended, removing the requirement for women to prove bodily injury to pursue criminal assault charges against their spouse.
  • The right to birth control.  In 1969, Canada legalizes all forms of birth control.
  • The right to maternity leave.  In 1971, the Unemployment Insurance Act introduces provisions for paid maternity leave.
  • In 1981, Canada signs on to UN General Assembly’s Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW).
  • In 1982, male MPs laugh callously in the House of Commons when Margaret Mitchell, MP for Vancouver East, brings forward the issue of spousal abuse and the report on battered wives.
  • In 1986, the federal Employment Equity Act is passed.
  • In 1988, the Supreme Court grants access to abortion for any woman who wishes it.
  • In 1990, approximately one-quarter of Canadian women, aged 25-54 had not earned a high-school diploma and only 14% of them had a university degree.  By 2009, 28% of women in the same age group had a bachelor or post-graduate university degree and the proportion of women who had not completed high school dropped from 26% to 9%.
  • In 1991, British Columbia elects Rita Johnston, the first female premier in Canadian history.
  • In 1993, Kim Campbell becomes the first, and to date, only female Canadian Prime Minister, serving from June 1993 until November 1993.
  • Since 1995, have there been further notable advancements?  That’s a great question.

Over the past 100 years, women (and the men who have supported them) have had to steadily keep the ‘pedal to the metal’ with constant pressure on the status quo.  A constant effort to move us forward.  Why should now be any different?  It’s not.  We are not there yet.  I wonder if over the past twenty years, perhaps some of us have resorted to thinking, “she’ll do it”, “they’ll do it”, “someone else will lead the charge”, “someone else will lead the change”?

In case some of us have drifted off, Tuesday was a huge wake-up call.

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image credit: www.policyalternatives.ca

The world needs us more than ever.

When it comes to pay, jobs and safety, men and women are still do not get equal treatment in this country.  This trickles down to the social and economic issues we continue to face, including poverty, inadequate safety, food and shelter, and violence against women.  Women continue to lag behind in holding leadership positions.  We are not in those key decision-making roles within the companies and communities in which we work and live.  We are not making the important decisions that directly affect our families, ourselves and our future.

So what is holding back women in going after and getting those key leadership positions? Here’s an interesting point, “Women running for office faced a double-bind:  They had to appear tough enough to lead but if they were too tough or too confident, they violated norms about how women were supposed to behave.”*

Let’s look at it on a global scale.  Now more than ever, the world needs female leaders, in all of their grounded, positive, creative and feminine brilliance to encourage innovative wisdom.  If you don’t sense the urgency, I highly recommend that you watch the documentary, Before The Flood.  Climate change is real, and our children and grandchildren are counting on us to do better.  Leonardo DiCaprio asks “the question is can we change our course in time to make a difference?”

“Be the voice of change, don’t just be the recipient of it.”

– Irene Natividad, Former President of the U.S. National Women’s Political Caucus

Are YOU ready to begin?  

All of this can feel completely overwhelming.  Start with a deep breath.

Three tangible steps that we can begin to take today:

  1. Demand more.  What got us HERE isn’t going to get us THERE.  We must demand more from others and from ourselves!  Absolute excellence and complete brilliance is needed.  There’s no room for mediocrity.
  1. Be kind.  Love heals.  Daily acts of kindness, no matter how small adds up to create a positive change.
  1. Remember what you are fighting FOR, not AGAINST. It’s the Law of Attraction, like the law of gravity – it always works.  Remember, we get what we most focus on.

NEXT UP.  

I want to share a few next steps shared post-election by Hilary’s campaign manager, Robby Mook.

  • Run for office.  If we’ve learned anything from our candidate, it’s that the best way to make change is simply to go out and do it.  Get involved in a local or municipal race, whatever it takes to be that change you want to see in your community.
  • Get involved in your community in other ways.  Join a non-profit board; help plan community days, volunteer with local progressive groups.
  • Support women and girls.  Reach out to the women and girls in your family and other circles and let them know that you value and support them.  Ask them what their dreams are — then help them get there however you can.
  • Promote love and kindness where you live.  Hillary has lived her life with the words “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can” — and it’s up to us to carry on her work in our communities.

There is one thing that I know for sure…

The time is now for well-coordinated and well-communicated collective action.  

The solutions we seek will not be found – fast enough – if we, as women, continue to work the way in which we have in the past.

Media will continue to play a vital role in how effectively and how fast we move forward.


4impactPowHERhouse is the only Canadian media platform that accelerates individual performance, business growth and social impact.  Find out more about our 400 X 400 4 IMPACT campaign here.

Reference:  Celebrating 100 Years of Advancements Human Rights and Women in Canada 1911 – 2011,Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission

*Someday:  The Long Fight for a Female President, VOX

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