International Women’s Day 2021

What do you think of when you think of women?

Do you think of sensitivity or weakness? Or do you think of the un-yielding strength behind the incredible amount of courage being a woman has taken over hundreds, nay, thousands of years? This fortitude is still needed to speak up and stand up, but sometimes it is necessary just to cope…to survive.

Do you think of caretakers or mothers at home being supported by others? Or do you think of the generations that have been raised and educated, the family that has been honoured, the homes that have been cultivated, or the relationships nurtured?

Do you think of too sensitive, too emotional, worry too much, caring too much, thinking too much? Or do you think of the deep and unceasing compassion and humility that it takes for people – human-kind – to become better than what we were yesterday?

Perhaps we need to think of the intricate cog in the machine of life that women represent in our society.

Perhaps we need to think of what the world would be like without women to appreciate the world with them.

Women are not just important; they are unequivocally essential in the role of social development. How do I know this? Aside from the countless statistics that tell us that women are leading the way in non-profit organizations more than 50% of the time, in Northern BC, with the experience we have connecting with agencies, that number jumps up considerably. In addition to those in leadership roles, women are running programs, coordinating people and projects, running strategic development, and bringing awareness to issues across the board. Women are transforming the world, here, now.

For those of us who are wondering what all the fuss is? Think about this:

Yes, women still get paid less than male counterparts in comparable positions (though having a higher level of education), which makes up much of the rhetoric around inequality, but society is going tone-deaf to this issue. Women are decision-makers, innovators, thinkers, and planners, making up almost half of the workforce in Canada. Yet women are still defaulting to being the teacher (i.e., during a pandemic), the cook, the cleaner, the parent that handles childcare needs and family illnesses/injuries and are subject to out-dated ideas of dress code. Like the past days of putting the man’s career first, women are still defaulting to the passenger side of the car.

Whether its pressure put on by family members, partners, workplaces, society, or simply upon themselves, this is all learned behaviour. We learned, long ago, that women are inadequate, indecisive, insecure, soft, limited, and perhaps even powerless. This dialogue stays written into our DNA year, over year, over year…

I’m not sure about you, but the women I know are incredibly resilient, powerful, tenacious, and fascinatingly dynamic. Most of them not only lead their households, but they have careers – many are entrepreneurs. They volunteer, contribute to their family’s activities and community needs, have hobbies, and make the most of their every-day. It’s not that men do not do this, it’s that women don’t receive the same acknowledgement. I ask myself, when was the last time I was openly grateful or impressed for something a man did that a woman does every day without the same regard? It’s the times in which we question ourselves that reveal the truth behind where we are really at.

It’s not just recognition, it’s empowerment. We can say thank-you, but raising women up to being part of the next-steps is not a political responsibility, it’s a requirement of evolution. There is no question. Consideration should not be required. Experiencing the space around us with equality as automatic as the air we breathe will be the metric by which we can measure that we have “arrived”. When equality is engrained into our human society, it will be the time that equality is no longer something we need to consider.

Until then, I will continue to ask myself questions about where I stand. I will be curious about the things we do and why we do them. I will open my mind and soul to the reality of women being not just the caregivers of society, but the change-makers. I will, on International Women’s Day, look at myself in the mirror, and allow myself to think beyond the limitations I have inherently put upon myself.

And I ask, what will you do?


Trista Spencer
Executive Director
United Way of Northern BC


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