Every year on this date — March 8 — people in Saskatchewan and around the world recognize International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is, “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.”

This year’s observance comes at a time when the global movement for women’s rights and equality is growing stronger. From the #MeToo movement to the myriad marches and campaigns around the world, calls to end gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women have been loud and many.  A wave of momentum is building. International Women’s Day 2018 is a chance to turn that momentum into action that empowers women everywhere, in both rural and urban settings.

Yet, for all the positive strides that have been made this year, at home and abroad,  a lot of work remains to be done to make gender equality a reality. Women, girls, transgender women and gender-non-conforming people continue to face hardships and discrimination.

In Canada:

  • Average earnings for women are 68.4% of what men earn, suggesting a gap of over 30%;

  • Too few women are advancing to leadership roles, with women making up just 21.6% of Financial Post 500 board members; and

  • Women account for 76% of victims of criminal harassment and 87% of victims of sexual offences.

While here in Saskatchewan:

  • Women are less likely to be hired than men;

  • Women make less than 75 cents to a man’s dollar. In Regina, women make 73 cents for every dollar a man makes and in Saskatoon, women make 63 cents;

  • We consistently have one of the highest provincial rates of police-reported violent crime against women, nearly double the national rate; and

  • Provincially, we have one of the highest rates of police-reported violence against girls under the age of 12.

As citizens, these are not facts we can be complacent about. To advance gender parity in our province, action is required. That is why, today, it is important we join people and leaders around the world and continue to #PressForProgress.

It is also important that, moving forward, we motivate colleagues, unite friends, and inspire our communities to think, act and, above all else, be gender inclusive.