International Women’s Day: A time to act

International Women's Day 2015 Theme

International Women’s Day 2015 Theme

I am ashamed to admit that I almost forgot that International Women’s Day is March 8 until I received an e-mail from Match, a Canadian organization dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women  around the world.

No parent can afford to forget IWD or the struggles it represents, if we want equality for our girls and boys.

Not so long ago my mother was considered by law incapable of deciding whether a medical operation would be in the best interests of her children. In 1950’s Quebec, where I grew up, the law required the signature of my father, who while a lovely man, was not an involved dad and would have known far less than my mother, a former nurse, about any health concerns his kids might have had. It was not until 1964 that Quebec wives could conduct themselves independently in legal or financial matters without authorization from their husbands.

My mother was married under a regime known as “separate as to property”.  That meant she had control over what she owned. But that was useless for a stay-at-home mom, who owned only the things she brought into the marriage: some silverware, dishes and bed sheets. She was totally dependent upon the good will of my father.

My mother once gave a speech at the local Toastmistress organization on how Quebec legislation discriminated against women.   She came home fiercely angry when the male adjudicator gave her poor marks, which she was convinced were in retaliation to what she said. She raged against her status in the 1950’s before the 1960’s wave of feminism became the rage.

My grandmother’s situation was worse. Read More