Together we can make every day International Women’s Day

By Ihsaan Gardee

(March 4, 2011) – March 8 2011 marks International Women’s Day (IWD), which has been observed since the early 1900s.

“IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.”

Governments, organizations and women’s groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues.

This year, the federal government of Canada has selected its theme as Girls Rights Matter.

“A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.”

Learn more about activities in celebrating this day in your city here.

Women have made significant gains over many years of protest and struggle.

Still, the fight continues.

1400 years ago, Islam affirmed women’s rights as human rights, including the right to vote, to own property, to hold positions of leadership and the right to education and employment.

Sadly, the reality is that what is prescribed by the faith is not necessarily what is universally practiced both in Canada and around the world.

In Canada, Muslim women are still often treated by their communities as second class citizens – relegated to crowded back rooms at local mosques, provided back doors to access shared spaces and barred from leadership positions.

Our communities are drained of the invaluable resource of strong and intelligent women who have moved on to contribute elsewhere, having grown weary of the opposition and lack of inclusion they face from within.

This must change.

We at CAIR-CAN encourage all Canadians to reflect on the situation of girls and women in Canada, in our communities, and around the world and how we can all make positive changes.

By uplifting women we create a synergy within our communities and throughout society which make them sustainable, and in the end, uplifts us all.

Together we can make every day International Women’s Day.

*Ihsaan Gardee is the Executive Director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN). Source: CAIR-CAN Media Watch, March 03, 2011.