22 Mar 2016

I am not a coin collector but this morning I bought the Canadian Mint’s 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote dollar coins. Five coins for $5, shipping and handling included. Those of us older than dare I say 40 remember what it was like to become a woman in the 70’s and 80’s and the impact equal opportunity legislation made in our lives, giving us the opportunity to break down all sort of barriers and misbeliefs. Today we are certainly economically better off and have in many cases enjoyed work our mother’s could only have dreamed of doing. No doubt we owe a great debt of gratitude to those women who organized, marched and went to jail on occasion so that long after they were gone we could reap the benefits of the seeds they had sown.

Even when I was younger (under 30) I always knew the importance of women having the right to vote. To not have an equal say in who governs, leaving the decision strictly to the male gender was at worst, dictatorial and at best, simply ludicrous. However, knowing we, as women, had to fight to get the right to vote was more of a historical fact than something that had much impact on my day to day life. Today, at the grand old age of 52 I feel much stronger about this historical fact than I used to. I was thrilled to see these coins. One hundred years since women were granted the vote in Canada. One hundred years. Take a moment and think about that.

A 100 years is both a long time and a short time. Think about all that has transpired and all that still needs to come. I know without the tenacity of these women 100 years ago we wouldn’t be a place to fight today’s battles. Battles like the Bill Cosby trial, the removal of taxes from sanitary products and the Hooter’s dress code. We wouldn’t have medical research that takes gender into account because our bodies “are” different from the male body. Maternity leave, much less paternity leave, wouldn’t exist thereby robbing not only today’s children but also their parents of the opportunity to nurture the next generation and better support one another. And we wouldn’t have a societally sanctioned “No means No” mentality that helps keep women much safer than they were 100 years ago.

Today’s young women are often criticized for not understanding the types of fights and crap we endured to be treated as equals. Today’s younger women are usually treated with respect, something many of us had to earn the hard way enduring comments and actions that today would result in harassment charges. I suppose this is what sometimes angers us – the unfairness that we had to do the hard work and today’s young women seem to act in a way that suggests these privileges were a foregone conclusion in their lives. In many ways I suppose they are. We raised these young women with a sense of entitlement and so we cannot truly be surprised that they have one. This is actually progress in its own way.

I trust that as the 30 somethings become the 50 somethings they too will look back and realize how strong and brave these women were and how their own generation has added to this story, much as mine does now. And so to commemorate the courage of these pioneers of the women’s movement and as a symbol of women’s strength both then and since I bought the coins. One day they will go to my daughter to remind her not only off all that has been done on her behalf but of all she too must do to not only retain what has been hard earned but to keep moving herstory forward.

If you too would like to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote by purchasing these coins, if only because they give us a place to start and continue our on-going dialogue of what it means to be a woman in Canada go to mint.ca/womensvote or call 1- 855 -757-7685. Unfortunately, orders are limited to one per household or I’d have bought them for all the young girls in my family. I wish I could have bought more.

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