FSA Member & BCIT Librarian Elizabeth Padilla shares her insights into the theme of International Women’s Day 2023 and its resonance. Elizabeth is the library institutional repository coordinator, Marine Campus liaison librarian, Food for Thought series coordinator, and serves as the library EDI coordinator.
Celebrated first in 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked annually on March 8. The history of the day is fascinating and contested, with an array of social movements influencing and participating in Women’s Day celebrations. This breadth continues to be part of IWD’s strength. Anyone anywhere can play a part in helping forge inclusive cultures where women thrive. Together we can build a more equitable world, including more equitable places.
At BCIT, we’ve had fantastic support for IWD events. Over the years, we’ve held open discussions inviting faculty, staff, and students to share their stories with other women in academia around the world; celebrated books by some of our amazing authors at BCIT who happen to be women; and heard insights, experiences, and wisdom from Indigenous elders and FSA members.
The 2023 IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity, a call to celebrate difference and inclusion in our struggle for a more just world. Women are a diverse group and this year’s theme provides an opportunity for each of us to fully embrace equity where we live and work.
Forging Inclusive Cultures
Each of us can actively promote equity. We can challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek inclusion. Yet it is collective activism that drives change. From the grassroots to wide-scale action, we can move mountains when we act together. Forging gender equity cannot, indeed, be limited to women fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important to our social, economic, cultural, and political advancement. Our movement is weaker without solidarity and, though we’ve made tremendous strides, there remain significant inequities to overcome.
While International Women’s Day has existed in one form or another for over a hundred years, there are still industries that have very few women employed and work cultures that promote exclusion. Within post-secondary education, there exists a gender imbalance in hiring, promotion, and pensions, exacerbated by broader trends including women exiting their jobs at unprecedented rates. This imbalance is also influenced by inadequate healthcare options.
Equity and Equality
Though often conflated, equity and equality are different concepts. The IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign seeks to help forge worldwide conversation about moving beyond equality in opportunity and toward equity in opportunity. Equity can be defined as providing everyone with what they need to be successful. Equity, in other words, is not the same as giving everyone equal resources. Equitable processes and relationships recognize that each person has different circumstances and allocate tools and opportunities necessary for individuals to reach an equal outcome. Equity-based solutions consider the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities, adapting services and policies accordingly.
The path to gender equity is long and difficult to traverse. Yet by fostering equitable relationships and policies in our working lives and communities we may ride together to reach our ultimate goal.
Library Resources and Further Reading
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – Research Guide & Resources at BCIT
Respect, Diversity and Inclusion in Health
Past IWD Programming at BCIT Food for Thought
BCIT Archives & Special Collections (search)