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Pandemic offers different view of International Women's Day

Health minister Adrian Dix looks on as chief provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19, Saturday, March 28, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Government of B.C.
March 08, 2021 - 5:28 PM

This is an International Women’s Day unlike any in living memory.

The day has been observed since 1911, recognizing the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while calling for gender parity. Throughout the last year, however, it’s showcased many women in leadership roles while many others suffered inequities that grew under the shadow of the pandemic.

“Women leaders that we have seen around the world and here in Canada (are) an inspiration to young women and girls everywhere,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, March 8.

“That they see themselves in science, technology, engineering, math, and arts, and all of the other important parts of our learning environment… but I am in awe of my colleagues here in B.C. and across the country.”

Dr. Henry said these women leaders' ability to talk to people about the science and epidemiology throughout the pandemic has offered hope and inspiration.

For many other women, however, it’s been a less than stellar year.

“I will also say we know that this pandemic has not affected people equally,” she said. “We know that it has differentially negatively impacted women in many different job areas and that women are more likely to have lost income and to be at home to take over the roles of caregiver and teacher and it's been very, very challenging for them.”

Once the pandemic is in the rearview window, Dr. Henry said that needs to be acknowledged.

“I think we need to not lose sight that as we get through this pandemic, and we start to look at our processes again, that we are able to address some of the inequities that the pandemic has shown us, not only for women but for racialized women,” she said. “We see that in healthcare, we see that across the board.”

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