International Women’s Day (IWD) has always held special meaning here at Women’s College Hospital. The foundation of the hospital rests upon the shoulders of courageous individuals who refused to accept the status quo and sought gender equality – and, in doing so, created a legacy that continues within our walls today. Every day, I find myself surrounded by so many amazing people who are committed to revolutionizing healthcare, and March 8 serves as an opportunity for all of us to come together to continue advocating for gender equity.
On this day, it is important to recognize the layered experience and complexities of gender diversity beyond a binary of women and men, recognizing gender is a much broader spectrum. Gender equity means that all persons, regardless of their gender, will enjoy the same status and respect in society; have the same entitlements to all human rights and healthcare; can take advantage of the same opportunities to make choices about their lives; and have the same amount of power to shape the outcomes of these choices.
In order to achieve true gender equity, it is also important to acknowledge that not all individuals’ experiences are the same. Many people are often overlooked and underserved because healthcare has traditionally not considered the impact of sex and gender differences – but we also know that ongoing systemic racism makes this health gap even wider for Black, Indigenous and people of colour. We know that many transgender women experience discrimination when trying to access basic healthcare and often wait decades for life-saving transition-related care.
In order to build a truly gender equal world, it’s our shared responsibility to make sure that all people —regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status—have an equal voice and are included. There is a lot of work to be done but I am so proud and honoured to spend each day working alongside so many allies here at Women’s College to challenge and address these barriers and advance our mission towards equity for all.
Last week, many of you shared your visions for a gender equal future – you wrote down your dreams for yourselves, your children and future generations. You described a world of equal opportunity without glass ceilings, a future where everyone has equal access to healthcare, a time that lets go of thinking of gender in binary terms – and so much more.
Seeing your collective vision for a gender equal future when I walked into the hospital this morning was so uplifting and a reminder what International Women’s Day is about. It is about all the people who stand-up each day to overcome different forms of inequity. It is about the people here at Women’s College Hospital who work to close the health gaps. It is about our patients and the diverse community we serve. And it is about our shared vision of a healthier and more equitable world for women and all individuals.
Wishing everyone a happy International Women’s Day!