Local event to mark International Women’s Day

Local advocacy groups banded together for International Women’s Day this year on an event that will go from a memorial along Dallas Road to a downtown discussion of gender in the workplace.

“It’s not something we usually do, but there was a lot of interest with the Women’s March in January,” said Barbara Mitchell-Pollock of the Council for Canadians.

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She was referring to the Jan. 20 rally in Centennial Square, one of thousands across Canada and the U.S. inspired by the Washington march for women’s rights.

On Wednesday, events will begin at 6 p.m. at the École Polytechnique Women’s Memorial Plaque at Holland Park with a candlelight vigil to remember the 14 young female engineering students shot to death in Montreal in 1989 by Marc Lépine, who proclaimed a hatred for feminists.

“People can also bring a candle and honour who they like — mother or grandmother, doesn’t matter,” Mitchell-Pollock said, adding there will be poetry and music as well.

The Community Action Bus will shuttle attendees to the Victoria Event Centre on Broad Street for a film and discussion about “gendered experiences” in the workplace.

“The economic and rights parts are important because that’s how International Women’s Day started,” Mitchell-Pollock said.

National and international women’s days started in the early 1900s to honour protests for workers’ rights, voting rights and pay parity. In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 as International Women’s Day.

According to an Oxfam Canada report, women in Canada earned 72 per cent of what men did in 2011. Aboriginal women earned less than that. Women represented 60 per cent of minimum-wage workers.

Mitchell-Pollock said everyone is welcome to the events.

“When women are empowered, everyone is empowered,” she said.

The Women’s March on Washington organizers have planned a women’s strike against paid and unpaid labour on Wednesday, calling it “A Day Without a Woman.” Participants can also wear red and avoid spending money.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

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