Ah Canada Day, the smell of fireworks and barbecue continues to linger in the air as many Calgarians have returned home to work after the long weekend. This long weekend also gave us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the past year and envision what we would want to happen in this next rotation around the sun. While we as Canadian’s have much to be proud of, we also know there is still much work to do to create equitable communities in this great country.

We know that rates of violence against women have not diminished over time and in addition to the impact to women’s lives, the cost of gender-based violence impacts Canadians to the tune of $7.4 billion each year. We also know that parity for women in the C-suites and leadership roles is still a long ways away.

So, in honour of Canada’s 151st birthday, here are our two feminist birthday wishes for Canadians:

1. We know we need everyone – women, girls, men and boys – to end violence against women.

Violence against women (often referred to as gender-based violence) continues to be a pervasive problem in this country and it is a reflection of social norms, gender roles, social and political institutions that normalize and legitimize violence against women. Gender-based violence stems from societal imbalance and beliefs that continue to send messages that men have more power than women.

In Canada, we know that one in two women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. You likely know a woman who has experienced some form of violence.

Each of us has a role to play in ending gender-based violence. It cannot be hidden behind closed doors, as a community we must address this issue loudly and fiercely so no home is unsafe.  We are all accountable to create a safe environment in which women and girls can thrive.

2. Improve the rates of women in leadership and C-suite positions

Increasing the number of women in leadership positions is good business sense and when we create an environment where women can thrive, the community benefits. Women are finding representation in leadership positions in the public sector with seven Canadian provinces achieving employment equity policies for public employees. Women’s participation rate in business and finance has increased more than 44 per cent! However, despite that success, in the private sector women only hold 34.8 per cent of all management positions. An even more sobering statistic is that seven of the 249 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index have a woman CEO.

We need to help women break through the glass-ceiling; we need to continue to support women to speak out in a way that is supportive and respectful to help build gender equity and create a brighter future for women and girls.