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Make March for women

By Gillian Barth, President and CEO, CARE Canada

In a few days, I will join other women, other leaders, and other advocates in celebrating International Women’s Day. This focal point for women’s rights, which began shortly after the turn of the century and was supported by the United Nations beginning in 1975, has gained momentum year after year.

And, in my estimation, it can and must gain even more.

The world and all of its people, despite the sum of our knowledge and wealth, remains unequal. Women in Canada are still struggling for the same rights and opportunities as men. And women in some developing countries face barriers that would never occur to many of us.

Some aren’t allowed to open a bank account. Some aren’t allowed to own land. Some aren’t allowed to go to school. And so many won’t survive a walk home alone, let alone the prospect of delivering a baby in a remote and ill-equipped hospital.

But we must not despair. Women have consistently gained access to our rights and when we all come together – men and women, girls and boys – we end inequality. Change is within our grasp, if we choose to act.

A day to celebrate women is a key step in this path. So, what if we celebrated for more than one day? What if we made March, in its entirety, for women?

CARE represents a global movement of those who dedicate their careers, their expertise, their volunteer time and their financial support in pursuit of a world of hope, inclusion and social justice. And around the world, CARE is making March for women.

But we can’t do this alone.

Our partners in Zambia are asking others to speak out in support of women and girls. Our partners in Germany are doing the same, as well as in the United States and in so many other countries around the world. Our global campaign, March4Women, is a campaign for gender equality.

As Canadians, we enjoy rights and freedoms that are out of reach for so many others. This month, we’re asking you to pause, to hear those who deserve rights and freedoms they do not yet have, and to take action to amplify their voices.

As part of our March4Women campaign, CARE Canada is hosting local walks in communities across Canada. These walks allow you to experience the challenges women in developing countries face as they walk long distances to access water or food instead of earning an income or going to school.  Walk In Her Shoes is a fun event for those interested in connecting with and inspiring others to take action for gender equality.

We have learned that in order to help women and girls lift themselves out of poverty, we also need to bring people together – governments, leaders and organizations with influence – to help them learn more about the effects of inequality and to take action for a better world.

To that end, CARE is calling on Canada to lead efforts to uphold women and girls’ rights where they are most under threat: in conflict and emergency settings. Our work here, in collaboration with Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, is meant to ensure Canada’s commitment to keep gender equality at the forefront of humanitarian aid.

To be successful and truly show overwhelming support for gender equality, we need your help. Join our call to uphold women’s voices and rights in conflict and emergency settings by signing our online petition launching on March 4th.

This month, we can walk for gender equality, we can sign in support of gender equality, and most importantly, we can speak up for gender equality. All month CARE will share insights from our staff, from our partners, and from the women and girls who design their own futures with CARE's support. Please take the time to understand and amplify their voices. It’s the only way to the future so many women deserve.

It’s time to celebrate. It’s time to make March for women.