Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, March 8, 2021.

One of the good things about an overcast morning is that should you decide to take the dog to the beach, you’ll have the place to yourselves for the most part.

Though we’re in a pandemic and many of us miss hanging out with friends and family the way we used to, solitude is good for us when we need to get away from all the noise of everyday life: news on COVID-19, more news on COVID-19, and the never-ending hail of information we don’t need but get anyway through social media on any given day.

Tomorrow is March 8, and I am reminded of being little and knowing that when Women’s Day came around, my sister and I would get beautiful bouquets of delicate snowdrops and violets from our yard for Mom.

We would make cute cards for her with spring blooms and tiny birds and she was always so pleasantly surprised and flustered. There was nothing political and controversial about it: just kids honouring their moms in the best way we knew – with hugs, little kid drawings and those first spring flowers. I’d also take a hand drawn card to my teacher and we would call grandmas and aunties too.

My Dad would always make sure to include my sister and I in celebrating the women in the family by giving us a wee bouquet of our own. I was utterly pleased and also felt a bit like I did when I was trotting around the house wearing my Mom’s dresses and high heels: on my way to be a grown-up but knowing I am still a long way away from it.  

Many years ago, I was asked by someone why I am attached to a day that is but a communist relic.

Then and now, the answer is the same: because though I grew up in a communist country, and so much of my extended family’s well-being was tragically affected by it, March 8th had always been a day of joyful celebration, not just of women, but also of motherhood. To me that meant the world, and it still does, more than ever now that my Mom is no longer around to say that to her.

It took growing up, getting my knees scraped and my whole being humbled by life itself to begin to understand what it meant to be vulnerable and strong at the same time, like my Mom was and so many other women and moms I knew.

Recognizing that had nothing political in it.

However, growing up means we become less oblivious to the ills of the world and women’s rights is one that needs a lot of work yet. And here at home, while there’s less to be rectified, we’d be naïve to think that we’ve arrived to where we should be when it comes to honouring women.

A horrible and on-going reality is that of intimate partner and domestic violence against women. Since the pandemic started, reports of domestic assaults have doubled, though sadly, calls to the police have not matched that increase. Also, let’s not forget that many times reports of violence against women end up with the perpetrator being either mildly chastised by the police or the abuse is not even acknowledged.

Shelters do not have adequate funding and resources to help women fleeing violence (those who can) and there are countless reports of increased violence due to hardships brought on by the pandemic. Women living in small and remote communities have access to lesser resources yet and that is too easily forgotten in the vortex of daily news.

We have a long way to travel to where we can say that women are respected. It won’t happen overnight but every step counts, such as the recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act to acknowledge the impact of family violence.

Celebrating women is not a political act, but a necessary affirmation of appreciation which includes taking action to make things better where that’s due. 

Here’s to seeing March 8 become a happy day for all women in the nearest future!