Celebrate Women Today and Everyday

Blog Post 

Ottawa

Today is International Women’s Day; a day which I am truly thankful for all the women who have worked tirelessly, past and present, towards a more equitable world where all voices are heard. I take this day to reflect on the women that came before me and the work that we have to continue to do in their honour.

Here at the Douglas Coldwell Layton foundation we’re paying tribute to all the incredible women in our movement who have led the way towards a better Canada today - and everyday!

Trailblazers like Alexa McDonough, for example. I used to hear stories about her from constituents from my days at the NDP - how she always extended a hand and encouraged others to get involved, how kind, optimistic, and principled she was. She never backed down from a challenge, in fact she would take it on and prove everyone around her wrong. 

She was an activist, social worker, teacher, reporter, and politician - just a few of her accomplishments. But it was not an easy path for her. She ran unsuccessfully in 1979 and 1980 in Halifax. The Nova Scotia NDP needed a new leader but Alexa did not have a seat. Of course, that did not stop her from entering the leadership race and achieving a landslide victory. 

She was the only woman in the House of Assembly and spent time trying to dismantle the old boys club, and build the caucus up. After 14 years as the NS NDP leader she decided to step down. Her sights were set on a new challenge - federal leadership, which she won, which was no small feat. She became the first woman to lead a major political party in Canada! The party won 21 seats and began to grow again.  

She fought for health and safety improvements, human rights protections, pay equity, women’s bodily autonomy, and increased international aid. Her accomplishments would not be possible without her perseverance and the support she had around her. They say you have to ask a woman seven times to run before she’ll say yes. The reality is that women in Canada still only make up 30% in leadership positions whether that is the House of Commons or businesses.

This is why we must be there for women, building them up and providing them with the tools they need, so that we can have more passionate, supportive, and tough leaders who will take on the challenges of today.

Whether it is women on the frontlines who need better working conditions, mothers who need extra support, or community leaders who want to step up, we commit to being there for them, on this day and everyday.

That is why we created the Alexa McDonough Women’s Leadership Centre - a living repository for the stories of success and triumph of the women who have fought so hard over many decades, and those who continue to fight for justice and social democracy today. 

Last year we launched the Women’s Leadership Showcase; a series of interviews and events with leading social democratic women today who have inspired so many with their strength, intelligence, and determination like: Audrey McLaughlin, Marit Stiles, Peggy Nash, and Rachel Notley. 

It is our hope that this special event series inspires more women to get involved in their communities and become the leaders we know they are meant to be. Alexa was heavily involved in the community as a social worker, teacher, and politician. She was on the ground connecting with folks. And that’s where we need to be to reach more women - you are invited to get involved.

We kindly ask you to chip in what you can to support Alexa’s legacy so that we can support and inspire more women in Canada. We’re in six different cities this year and we want to expand so that we can reach even more folks about the work we have to do to advance gender equity and social democracy. This fight for a more equitable world, includes all genders. 

I hope on this day, you thank all the women in your life for all they do for you and show them some appreciation. Thank you for your loyal support.

In Solidarity,

Emily Scott, Stakeholder Relations

Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation

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