International Women’s Day is March 8, and this year the UN is looking to challenge nations to enact equal rights for women.

In what began as small celebrations of women throughout Europe in 1911, by 1977 the UN had created a resolution to have March 8 be recognized as International Women’s Day.

Centered on the twentieth anniversary of The Beijing Declaration, International Women’s Day 2015 is operating as a platform to call for the empowerment of women and to encourage development in the role of women as economic actors.

The UN has declared the international theme of 2015’s International Women’s Day as “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”

The Beijing Declaration was created by the UN in 1995, and was signed by 189 governments. 20 years later, the goals of the Beijing Declaration have still not been met, “While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain. This is the time to uphold women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and focus greater attention on women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part,” says the UN International Women’s Day webpage.

This year’s initiative will focus on the twelve major themes of the 1995 Beijing Initiative: “poverty; education and training; health; violence; armed conflict; economy; power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms; human rights; media; environment; and the girl child.”

According to the Status of Women in Canada, the Nation has declared its 2015 International Women’s Day theme as “Strong Women. Strong World. Improving Economic Opportunities for All”.

The City of Brantford has not yet proclaimed International Women’s Day.

According to City Councillor, Cheryl Antoski of Ward 4, “The clerk’s office researched what had last been done in recognizing International Woman’s Day, and they found a resolution from 2010 that asked the City of Brantford and it’s resident’s to support the efforts of the International Women’s Day Committees.”

After being elected this past fall, Antoski is the only woman sitting on Brantford’s City Council. “Brantford certainly lags behind many other communities in terms of the number of women on Council. To accurately have proportional representation for Brantford, we should have 5 women on Council.” says Antoski.

Brantford has never had more than two women sit on council in a term.

In regards to why Brantford more women are not involved in municipal politics, Antoski explained, “Being on Council is a huge time commitment that would be impossible for women who don’t have the full support of their family. In my opinion, women are fantastic multitaskers and are capable of this challenge, but without the full-hearted support, it can add strain to a family. Also, we need to encourage strong women and not see this as aggressive or contrary.”

In regards to Canada’s theme of “Strong Women. Strong World.” Anotski says, “I do identify with this theme …I am certainly seeing great strides in this regard.  Many of our leaders in education, various agencies, industry, excreta, are women.  I believe that if you were to look at statistics of 10 years ago to now, that you would see a very noticeable increase in numbers.”

Lin Fines, of the Brantford chapter of The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), says that the organization is working with Brantford’s Nova Vita to host the Women of Excellence Awards on March 4.

The 6th annual Women of Excellence Awards is Nova Vita’s International Women’s Day fundraiser, which operates to highlight the achievements of local women, while raising money to help women affected by domestic violence in the Brantford community. According to Nova Vita’s website, last year’s event raised $40,000.

“This year there are 18 nominees -and an award in each of five categories.” says Fines, “The event will follow a similar format to the previous five years – doors open at 5:30 for a silent auction, dinner will be around 6:30, Kate Davis will be our after dinner speaker – and at 9 p.m. we will honor this year’s recipients of the Women of Excellence Awards.”

CFUW will be participating in International Women’s Day events across Canada, “CFUW National helps clubs across Canada to focus on resolutions and concrete projects with measurable outcomes [and] community driven long-term interventions which empower, protect, educate, and nurture girls and women, providing them with equal rights and opportunities.” says Fines.