Monday, March 8, 2010
International Women's Day
March 8 is International Women's Day, the highlight of International Women's Week. Each year at this time, we celebrate progress toward equality for women and their full participation, reflect on current challenges and consider future steps in achieving equality for all women, in all aspects of their lives. International Women's Week 2010 wraps up on Saturday, March 13.
The Government of Canada's theme for 2010 is Strong Women. Strong Canada. Strong World. For Canadians, equality means women and men sharing in the responsibilities and obligations, as well as in the opportunities and rewards, of life and work. In Canada, leadership is key across society from the private sector to governments to the general public. Leadership is important, so that people of all origins, generations and backgrounds can participate fully in our country's economic, social and democratic life, and ultimately, in improving the state of the world.
The above statements were selected from the Status of Women Canada website, and were followed by some statistics which reflect the progress that has been made by women in many categories of life and work. However, we must not forget that, although great strides have been made since the days when young girls were told that they didn’t belong in an engineering program at university, not every barrier has been totally broken down. The average pay for women too often still lags behind men for work of equal value.
Today I am thinking about some of the strong women I have known who have influenced me, or those women that I admire from afar who provide inspiration. Both of my grandmothers worked long hours to care for large families, one on the farm, the other in the city. They had to make ends meet through the Depression years. I never heard them complain about their circumstances, instead they were intent on providing a caring, nurturing environment for their families. My mother, raised in the city, became a farmer’s wife near the end of the Dirty Thirties, and provided a strong example for her four children. I also had women teachers who encouraged and served as mentors to me in my early school years.
Moving forward to more recent times, I draw inspiration from all the fine women writers that I know. For instance, it was only a little more than a year ago that five writers set out to create a blog that would provide daily food for thought for other writers, and so Prairie Chicks Write Romance was born. Their ranks have grown to nine, plus a guest blogger every week. When the opportunity arose, I thought it would be a great learning experience for me, and I am very appreciative of the encouragement that I get as I continue to learn the ropes as a writer and a blogger on the Prairie.
There are published authors in the associations and groups I have joined, and their dedication and commitment to their craft sets a good example to those of us striving to get to their level. Take a bow, Jana (one of the original Chicks), Connie, and Lesley Anne McLeod (an SRW member and Honorary Chick) for the books you have had published! Also, Suze, a former Chick, one of the originals, who has publishing credits for short stories and magazine articles.
I am continually impressed by the stories our guests have to tell in their Saturday posts. Some have suffered many rejections, but stayed strong and never gave up. Others came out fast from the gate, showing us that anything is possible if you have put your best effort into a good story.
One of the women writers that I especially admire is a member of the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild. Sharon Butala is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. A recent book by Verna Reid in which she discusses Butala’s work and that of three other women, two artists and another writer, illustrates why she is held in such high regard. Women Between: Construction of Self in the Work of Sharon Butala, Aganatha Dyck, Mary Meigs, and Mary Pratt is published by the University of Calgary Press. “All four came into prominence in middle age, doing their most significant work in their mature years. They, along with the author, are members of a transitional generation of women, occupying the space between the traditional world of their mothers and the postmodern world of their daughters. The multiple roles they have played are reflected in the strong autobiographical content present in their work.”
Other women writers that I admire include Elizabeth Hay, Louise Penny, and the late Carol Shields, all of whom began writing later in life after leaving other careers or raising a family. I would also include Lorna Crozier (a poet), and Margaret Atwood who have both had long and illustrious writing careers.
So, these are some of the strong women that I celebrate on this day. I look upon them as influences on me in my efforts to achieve some level of success with my writing. What women have been strong influences in your life? Who has either been a mentor or has inspired you to greater achievement in your writing life specifically?