In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day.

Forty-five years later, it remains a day for celebrating the many contributions women and girls make to our society. It is also a day to recognize and reflect on the past and current struggles of women and girls.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.”

This is a call for people to start thinking outside of the box, to take a stand and send a message that things will not continue to be done in the old way. Women’s decisions, ideas, and experiences must be equally represented at the table.

This call puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality. Innovation must incorporate the ideas and technologies needed to disrupt imbalances, break down barriers, and transform society.

It is also a call to build smart solutions beyond simply acknowledging the gender gap. Solutions are needed to address the needs and rights of women and men, boys and girls – equally.

In Saskatchewan, we have come some distance since the United Nations first declared March 8 as International Women’s Day. Yet, gender equality still does not exist. Women, girls, transgender women and gender-non-conforming people continue to face hardships and discrimination.

According to a report titled “The Best and Worst Places to Be a Woman in Canada 2019: The Gender Gap in Canada’s 26 Biggest Cities”, published by the Canadian Centre or Policy Alternatives, Saskatchewan has work to do.

This report compared men and women in Canadian cities in regards to jobs, income, health, education and security and found, among other things, that:

  • Women in Regina bring home 73.8% of what men earn. In Saskatoon, they bring home only 66.7%.
  • In Regina, women make up 20% of elected officials and 39.6% of the managers in the city. Those percentages are 33% and 30.7% respectively in Saskatoon.
  • Because of high rates of police-reported violence and criminal harassment against women and girls, both cities ranked near the bottom of the list in security. Saskatoon ranked 22nd out of 26 cities; Regina ranked 23rd.

These numbers need to change. As citizens, it is time to act. We have to think outside the box, be innovative, be intentional, be inclusive, and find smart solutions that will advance gender parity in our province, across the country, and around the world.