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She Did, So Now I Can  

By Emily Griffiths, EHRC Junior Project Manager

In 1992 the Government of Canada declared October Women’s History Month. Since then, we have seen the first Black Canadian woman elected to the House of Commons, the first female Canadian Prime Minister, a Pay Equity Act, the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian parliament, and many other great strides for women in Canada. We have also been faced with the larger disparities in pay for women, racialized women, and those with intersecting identities.

Do you know the reason October was chosen as Women’s History Month? It was due to a Supreme Court case launched by the Famous Five. This group of five prominent women in Canada challenged the definition of the word ‘person’ which, in Canadian political and legal discourse, related solely to men. The Person’s Case suggested that the term ‘persons’ be adopted to include women. Their success resulted in Persons Day on October 18th, 1929, the day the Supreme Court decided women counted as “persons” as much as men and were allowed to fully participate in the affairs of state. Another key date this month is October 11th celebrating the International Day of the Girl. This United Nations (UN) initiative put forth by Canadian delegates, emphasizes the importance of economic empowerment in the livelihood of young girls. The UN specifically indicates that access to education, supports and training programs for girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is imperative to their social, political, and economic equality.

Throughout EHRC’s industry research projects and programs, we see that the ages 11-13 are critical years for girls and youth to pursue a career in STEM. Encouragement to continue and foster this interest through the high school years will enable them to participate in university and college STEM courses and increase the likelihood of a career in the industry. Greater care needs to be taken to include racialized girls, Indigenous girls, and those who identify as members of equity deserving groups, particularly people with intersecting identities.

EHRC seeks to develop STEM capacity in all the programs we touch. This may manifest in wage subsidy programs, through our Bright Futures Energy Camps promoting a passion for STEM amongst Indigenous youth, to our Department of Justice project working towards creating a sexual harassment-free workplace. You too can play a role by encouraging young women to find mentors, or even become one! We know that women with mentors accelerate in their careers five times more quickly than those without – here’s a quick, 7-minutes audio article from Forbes to explain how.

Let’s all reflect on the meaning of this year’s theme, She Did, So Now I Can, to examine how we can individually help ensure women of the future have an essential role in the electricity workforce of the future.