Thursday, March 8, 2012

What International Women’s Day really means to our city

Today marks International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to not only celebrating the historical achievements of women, but also to highlight gender equality. It’s also an important day to remember that five Albertans played a significant role in the fight to win equal rights in Canada.

“Some Calgarians may not be aware that the bronze statue on Stephen Avenue commemorates Alberta’s Famous 5,” says Erika Hargesheimer, The City’s General Manager of Community Service & Protective Services. “These five women were early advocates of women’s rights and opposing gender bias in Canadian senate.”

The Famous 5 included Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Irene Parlby. These women succeeded in their infamous fight, the Persons Case, to have women included in the term ‘persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act (at the time Canada’s constitution), which allowed women the right to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.

The impact of this case was such that women were suddenly allowed to become further involved in government and of course, just a few months after the success of the Persons Case, the first woman was admitted to the Canadian Senate, Cairine Wilson.

“Like The Famous 5, we should seek opportunities to ensure that barriers are removed, and welcome the thoughts and creativity from everyone regardless of gender, race or demographic,” says Erika. “That’s what it means to be a great city.” In honour of today’s historic events, The City has prepared a short video where Erika tells the full story of the Famous 5 and speaks to the importance of equality as an employer.

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