Rural & north women have unique talents and challenges

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower women – end hunger and poverty.

Apryl Veld – Omineca Express

Canada is celebrating women in rural and northern communities on March 8 this year.

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower women – end hunger and poverty. International Women’s Day is an occasion to honor and praise women for their accomplishments.

In Canada, Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister for Status of Women and  of Public Works and Government Services, led a Canadian delegation to the 56th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, in New York, February 27 to March 9. Ambrose is there to champion rural women’s role in communities across Canada and internationally.

“Women in rural, remote and Northern communities play a key role in Canada’s economic prosperity,” said Ambrose. “It is an honour to lead the Canadian delegation to this important international event and to champion the role of rural women in Canada and abroad.”

Locally, the coordinator for the Safe Home Society in Vanderhoof said we have seen some important advances for women in the past 30 years, and we have a lot to be proud of women in our area.

“Vanderhoof is a unique community and women don’t shy away from strong leadership roles, or pastoral roles,” Sylvia Byron said.

She notes there’s been some loss of culture for some groups, but women are adapting through supporting one another. She added, however we need to look at some areas that affect women’s lives concerning poverty.

“In Vanderhoof the situation with housing and transportation definitely affects women greatly,” Byron emphasized.

She also noted that we need to acknowledge what women contribute in a more meaningful way.

“The health of a family stems from women in that they take responsibility for the nurturing, along with the health and functioning of society; that is not always given its weight and recognition,” Byron observed.

And while women are more self-reliant and taking on non-traditional jobs in industry, she said we still need to give more support to both men and women in dealing with the cycle of family violence. And men need to be more vocal about it when witnessing it in our community.

“People need to challenge the attitudes of violence and disrespect toward women … this means telling someone that it’s not acceptable,” Byron said.