Strong women. Strong Canada.
Such is the message being promoted by Status of Women Canada for International Women’s Day 2014 — a day of celebration for women the world over that just so happens to be occurring today.
It’s an important message because it’s accurate.
Every International Women’s Day, I realize how fortunate I am — on two fronts.
The first is that I was born a caucasian male in the western world. To say I have been able to lead a life of privilege is an understatement.
I have never faced discrimination based on my gender, race or creed. I couldn’t imagine how it would make me feel to be excluded due to factors I can’t control. But I can see how those who have been have reacted to it, and from second-hand insight alone, I know I’d never want to be.
The second is that I was surrounded by powerful women who set tremendous examples, early in my life, about the important role women play in our society.
I was not raised by a stay-at-home mother. My mother worked, and I was raised by a babysitter, who herself was a stay-at-home mom.
Having seen both lifestyles from my (then very young) eyes, I couldn’t possibly have grasped the differences between the two roles, the different demands, and the different benefits and challenges my mother and my babysitter were faced with on a daily basis.
In many ways I still can’t conceive it.
What I can conceive is that both women played a fundamental role in making me who I am today.
My babysitter was also my tutor. Before I was in kindergarten she had taught me how to read.
By Grade 1 she had me practicing my cursive. It’s no coincidence that I eventually ended up choosing a form of writing for my career.
My mother is an aggressive businesswoman who demands results and attempts to achieve efficiency whenever she can.
From her example I learned that realizing what you want, having the audacity to stand when you identify it, and being willing to work hard to achieve your goals are vital to being successful in life.
My tenacity and my compassion are owed to the women who shaped my early years, and it is the combination of those two qualities that has driven the majority of my success.
In my life today, I continue to see the roles powerful women have played in making me a better person. Every day I learn to be a better man from the women around me, who show me the value and virtue in honesty, dedication, perseverance, ambition and patience.
Strong women create a strong Canada of which I am only one, very small part. This International Women’s Day, I will do my best to honour the women who helped raise me, and the phenomenal women who surround me every day. I encourage all of my readers — regardless of gender — to do the same.