The plight and achievements of women are being marked around the world as part of International Women’s Day.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Women’s Commission commemorated the day with an event in Saskatoon.
Vice Chief Heather Bear spoke to a crowd of 30 at the U of S about the history and role of First Nation women in leadership positions.
Bear said historically Indigenous women were honoured for their insight and wisdom, however today many in Canada are trapped in a cycle of poverty which has impacted their ability to nurture their families.
“When I look into the eyes of wounded women, I see they love their children,” Bear said.
“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the root causes that have led us to where we are today in the hope that awareness will create understanding and understanding will create change in society.”
Bear challenged the crowd to do one deed to help make that change.
Sue Brooks, president of the Business and Professional Women of Saskatoon (BPWS) said the day is not only a chance to celebrate the strides they have made in gender parity but it also serves as a reminder of how far society still needs to come.
On the Brent Loucks Show Tuesday, Brooks said that 50 per cent of our population is under represented at the decision making table, in both business and government.
“Women still make 82 cents on the dollar compared to men. There are all sorts of issues. Women still live in poverty and we have violence against women. All off those kinds of things are still issues that are out that need be death with,” Brooks said.
Advocating for more women in the boardroom is one of the focuses of BPWS. At the local level, Brooks said they hold regular education workshops and are currently developing a portal to link companies with qualified women for these roles. She estimates only 20 per cent of the board positions in Canada are held by women.
“There’s definitely a requirement for a cultural change for sure. You have to have CEOs on board. You have to make a concerted effort in the company to go out and look for women.”
Brooks is encouraged by some of the changes already happening elsewhere in Canada. Brooks said the Ontario government has legislated companies to report their policies and recruitment of women each year.
“If they’re not doing it than they have to explain why they’re not. I think that’s certainly a start,” she said.
Since 1914, International Women’s Day has been observed every year on March 8.