When I was a girl at school, girls weren't allowed to wear pants. Female teachers and students all had to wear dresses or skirts. It wasn't considered proper to wear slacks in public. Finally, things reached the tipping point. Girls were being suspended from school regularly for the shocking and rebellious wearing of pants to school. Our principal was upset at his lack of control. At the end of one long day, he made an announcement over the PA system. He was going to pray to see if God would allow girls to wear pants to school.
Next morning, he announced that female teachers and girls could now wear 'pant suits' to school. But jeans were expressly forbidden attire. Girls who wore jeans would be suspended. Next day, almost every girl in the school showed up wearing jeans. He couldn't stop us.
In 1916 Canadian women won the right to vote in the four western provinces. Ontario followed in 1917 (just 100 years ago!), and other provinces followed in the years afterwards. Quebec women didn't win the right to vote until 1940. It was a hard fought for... and sometime dangerous battle.
Once, I heard the great Canadian speaker and former ambassador to the United Nations, Stephen Lewis, talking about Human Rights. He said that he felt that worldwide, women have always been the most ill treated. Women's Rights are Human Rights.
For many reasons, I chose to walk with tens of thousands of others - a diverse crowd of women, children and men in the Women's Walk on Washington in Toronto on January 21st, 2017. We joined millions of others around the world in a peaceful march that shared common values: Human Rights, Social Justice and Good Government. We must never become complacent about Human Rights. We must remember that we are all global citizens who share the same planet. We must learn to live in peace with each other, and respect our earth if we are to survive.
Sharon Frayne is a writer and artist. She is a member of the Canadian Author's Association, the Niagara Writer's Circle and the Pumphouse Art Gallery. She looks for the universal experience and the mystery in everyday things.