This Mar. 8, the theme of International Women’s Day is “Inspiring Change,” and women are inspiring change around the world. Teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for women’s rights to education in Pakistan, was targeted and shot (although not fatally) by the Taliban in October 2012. She sought necessary change in views on women’s rights and education, inspiring a nation in the process. Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator, stood for 13 hours to filibuster a bill which, if passed, would have shut down more than three quarters of women’s health clinics in Texas.
Davis inspired women in Texas and throughout North America to fight back against leaders who wish to revoke women’s rights. But inspiring women aren’t only working in the political sphere. Even Beyoncé is an incredible advocate for gender equality—she shows women around the world that you can be independent, successful and a feminist while still enjoying more “traditional” roles, such as being a loving wife and mother.
There are countless inspiring women here at Dalhousie, as well. They are your professors, your teaching assistants. They are on your rugby team and in your fashion society. They are your lab partners and your friends. With so many women who have influenced me in my two years at Dalhousie, it’s hard to choose just one to highlight.
However, one woman who stands out amongst my professors is Mindy McCarville. A senior instructor and cell biology lab instructor, McCarville exhibits passion for her job on a daily basis. McCarville’s enthusiasm for cell biology, both in the lecture hall and in the lab, has inspired me to be more enthusiastic in my own studies. While writing this piece, I asked Mindy to tell me about any women in her life who had inspired her along the way. I was happy to find that Mindy could easily list many strong women who have greatly influenced her. In her email, McCarville spoke of her mother, Lynda, and her sisters Kerry and Brittany, whose compassion, kindness, humour and positivity greatly influence everything she does. Mindy also included some of her female faculty members such as Mount Allison’s Dr. Vett Lloyd, who influenced Mindy’s lecturing style as well as fellow Dal professor Beth Retallack, the inspiration behind the introduction of many new ideas into teaching labs. Behind every inspiring woman, there are many others who have inspired her.
International Women’s Day is incredibly important because it offers an opportunity for us to take time out of our busy schedules and appreciate the women who inspire us every day. On March 8, think of the women in your family— your grandmother, mother, sisters and close friends—and how they’ve influenced you over the years. Think about the generations of women before us who fought for our place in the work force, as well as for the right to vote. Where would we be without them?
Think about this, and think about how much work we still have left to do. While great strides have been made towards gender equality, true equality is not yet a reality. There are still women all over the world suffering at the hands of domestic violence, women who are still being sexually objectified by the media (and each other). Wage gaps still exist between men and women working the same jobs.
This March 8, take time to appreciate the women around you. Reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made before us, and recognize that there is still much to be done to achieve true gender equality. Be inspired to change the way you look at each other, and the way you look at yourselves.
For more information on International Women’s Day, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.