Message from the President: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2020

A Message from Clover Hemans,


President of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada

International Women’s Day (IWD) is our annual day to remember that across the world, women do not yet live lives unencumbered by economic, social, political, cultural, health, gender, and legal bias and discrimination.  Although these constructs affect our lives every day, women have proven to be fierce and indomitable fighters for freedom of choice and gender equality.

In 2020, the global theme of IWD is “Each for Equal”. I hope we can spread awareness of how implicit and unconscious bias taints our perceptions—even those who believe they are fair-minded. Systemic changes have far reaching consequences, thus multi-system solutions must be championed.

Women are often asked why they deserve a day each year to build awareness and to celebrate their achievements. The answer is simply that unconscious bias and indeed, conscious bias has long served to privilege men but has disadvantaged women and others who fall into further categories with augmented discrimination (known as inter-sectionality) such as ageism, racial prejudice, sexual orientation, motherhood, and the disabled.

There is often pushback when measures are taken to bring equity into the picture. Remember, to those who have privilege, equity feels like oppression.  So, while IWD celebrates women, for change to occur, we must also seek out allies.  HeForShe, is a growing and dedicated advocacy movement. We must continue to seek and find our allies—especially our HeForShe. People talk. Social media amplifies advocacy efforts which may lead to local→national→then global efforts against:

  • Gender pay-gaps
  • Gender-based bias
  • Implicit bias within search teams seeking leaders
  • Gender-biased research
  • Gender based violence
  • Reproductive Health injustices

Improved rights for women are in fact improved rights for humanity.  When women’s rights are entrenched, all rights are improved.  In the year 2020, it is telling that we still must have this conversation.  Much of the unstated revolves around the elephant in the room.  Power over half the population in the world is a heady thing.  Relying on guilt or altruism to do the “right thing” goes only so far. What does this mean for us?

We must continue to search for collaborative and innovative partners. We must build on what is working and seek to elevate and propagate the message and actions of those who hold women’s rights as human rights.

We must seek to:

  • Join the global community to honour and celebrate the achievements of women and allies.
  • Champion accountable actions that implement equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Push leaders for transparent structural and systems solutions for gender equity and equality.
  • Enact strategies both for individuals and organizations to combat Gender bias. Readily available tools standby for implementation
  • Gather insights from the many brilliant minds in our global community for new ideas

In the year 2020, the momentum accelerating women’s equality is increasing. This new decade shows promise. Collaboration, nimble communication, tenacity, and strategic alliances with the common goal of “Each for Equal” is the key.

My heart is full when I consider all the brave, fiercely passionate women and men who use all their skills to push for change. Let us all consider what we can do locally, nationally and globally so our sisters and humanity can achieve their maximum, over-arching potential.


Namaste in 2020