29 Jan 2017
- Last Updated on 29 January 2017
- Written by Ilia Fabbri
Originally published in the February 2017 OSCAR.
I never felt I was treated differently because I am a woman until I was thirty. Until that age, because of the privilege I have of living in Canada, I believed that my mother’s generation was the last to have to fight for equal rights for women in this country. I studied, worked, voted, spoke my mind, and felt I had all the same liberties as my male counterparts.
Then, at thirty, I entered the government machine in a respected and respectable office. I continued to work and vote and speak my mind, only now it felt different somehow, like a cog in the wheel was just slightly out of sync. Most of the time it was barely audible: a roll of the eyes when a female colleague expressed an opposing view. Or veiled in the form of humour: a scoff that so-and-so must be ‘on the rag'. Many times though, it was overt and disrespectful and made me sick. I will spare you these examples.
Maybe I was accustomed to working in environments where everyone spoke their mind, where we were expected and applauded for demanding respect. All of us: men and women. Maybe I had been lucky all this time or maybe I had been blind. In retrospect, I see that my tolerance for disrespect was so low that I would leave at the first whiff of it.
In this new reality though, for the first time, I encountered “The Boys Club” and try as I might, I wasn’t invited to the party. Luckily for me, I was always quite comfortable standing my ground and voicing my disapproval when required, but it wounded me to see that the reprimands weren’t quite so forthcoming from the top brass. Finally the day came when I was faced with the challenge of keeping my equal pay, even though I had birthed a child. I didn’t know that one could potentially negate the other. And that is the moment I became a #NastyWoman.
It is not my intention to undermine any workplace or any person. I write this because I know so many of you reading are neither shocked nor surprised by my experience and that is the most shocking part of this story. Is women’s equality not a fundamental principle of being Canadian? If one of the world’s most respected countries still doesn’t have this down pact, how can we hope to help those women around the globe who are not treated as free and equal human beings?
Alright, allow me to simmer down and get off my soapbox. I will share with you now a couple things I learned. Women must help women. We must not feel intimidated or threatened by each other. We are so much stronger than we think and together we are a force. This is how we raise Canada to the high standards we expect and this is how we help those without voices.
In this spirit, I invite you to join me on Sunday, March 5, 2017 for OSCA’s 2nd Annual Women’s Day Celebration. I promise an energizing evening of mingling with other fabulous and inspiring women in our community, guest speakers and wine and cheese. I look forward to seeing you all there.
Until then, I leave you with this quote:
“As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by.” - Madonna, 2016 Billboard Music Awards.