There are 3.5 billion women in the world today. March 8, International Women’s Day, is a day that aims to recognize every single one of them. Including everyone in movements like International Women’s Day is a challenge, but one that is essential to the day's success, say those who have historicaly been on the sidelines of the parade.
Trans women, for example, are often marginalized in society, seen as being less than male and less than female, according to Laura Budd, a trans woman and education coordinator for Moose Jaw Pride. On International Women’s Day she wants to see trans women recognized and not have their gender identity questioned, she said.
“I’d like us to start to step away from the fact that people still see trans women based on their genitals, whether or not you’re feminine enough to be in feminine space,” she said.
As a trans woman, Budd said she’s constantly having to prove herself to be seen and heard as female, noting that she no longer has the same presence she did when she was seen as male.
“Because I used to have voice in spaces that I now realize if I stand up and speak I’m not heard, I’m not seen. As a woman that’s obvious, but as a trans woman it’s blatantly obvious that I don’t have the voice I once had when I was seen as male. I'm definitely seen as less than in the feminine area, I'm not welcomed into female space and I don’t have the voice I once had,” said Budd.
In Canada, Indigenous women are also looking to find space in the International Women’s Day movement. Brenda Dubois, a Grandmother at the Aboriginal Students Centre at the University of Regina, says on International Women’s Day Indigenous women should acknowledge that they’re matriarchs and stand up for their obligations to be good parents, partners and people in the community.
Dubois also wants others to recognize the sacrifices grandmothers have made in Indigenous communities.
“The other piece for International Women’s Day is to acknowledge the kokums for their continued dedication and support and ‘sticktoitiveness’ to not give up on themselves or their families...(it’s) through the strength of the grandmothers that our families are still together today, that we’re still doing what we need to do today, and still fighting systems that try to break us apart,” she said.
As a collective society, Dubois said it’s important for women from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to sit together to discuss and discover commonalities between each other.
There are also number of local organizations that are calling for increased participation and recognition of women on International Women’s Day.
Amnesty International Saskatchewan is asking people to stand in solidarity with Indigenous women across Canada. They are also encouraging people to get involved by advocating for the release of Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights activist who is serving a 16-year jail sentence in Iran.
Crystal Giesbrecht, a fieldworker for Amnesty International Saskatchewan, said International Women’s Day is a chance to spread awareness.
“We think it’s an important time to reflect and acknowledge the good work that has been done, but it’s also a time to be aware of and inform people about what they can do to stand up for the rights of women and girls,” she said.
The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan is also calling on people to take action. PATHS is organizing a rally on International Women’s Day.
Jo-Anne Dusel, executive director of PATHS, wants attendees to be vocal about why it’s important to celebrate women.
“One of the things we really wanted to do with our gathering is that we want it not to be bringing in speakers and telling you why you should be here, we’re encouraging people to come and to bring a sign that says what does International Women’s Day mean to you,” said Dusel.
The rally will be held at 12 p.m., March 8 on Scarth Street in Regina.