Happy International Women’s Week!

What International Women’s Week Means to Me
by Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director

As we were doing the dress rehearsal yesterday for our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues, it really hit me what an important contribution women have made to my life. It started with a strong feminist mother, then numerous female mentors and an amazing group of female artists that I have the privilege to work with on a daily basis. Not to mention the women who have fought many a battle to get us to where we are today. I can’t imagine not being allowed to vote because I am a woman or being limited by a narrow field of career options. It seems absolutely absurd that women were not recognized as people until 1929!

That being said, I can also recall many moments in my life when I realized I was at a disadvantage because I was born a certain gender. My first conscious realization of difference was riding my tricycle around the neighbourhood on a hot day at about age 4 and being told that I was a girl and had to wear a top, even though the boys were shirtless. Other little moments, like being in a stagecraft class in university and being called ‘honey’ and having guys take away all the heavy building or power tool jobs, even though I’ve always been better with power tools then many men I know. Of course whenever we go to a hardware store or have construction workers in to the house, my male partner is the one they automatically address even though I am the one who does all the handiwork. These are minor things but they still point to larger systemic issues, the same attitudes that in my mind lead to even more harmful behaviours.

With all the amazing International Women’s Week activities in Winnipeg and the recent run of Fighting Days at MTC, there seems to be great awareness of the progress we have made as well as the battles still needing to be fought. I still think there are many stories untold though and hope to continue to bring new ones to the stage!

I also need to remind myself that many of the privileges we enjoy aren’t available to other women across the world, that there are still many battles to be won. I keep a copy of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn beside my desk. It’s a constant reminder of the fact that women aren’t recognized as people in many parts of the world.

I also look at our political landscape. As the fictional, back from the grave Nellie McClung points out in Cairn Moore’s monologue The F Word our prime minister, premier, mayor…well about 75% of all our politicians are still men. Not quite the progress our foremothers might have hoped for by this stage – reaching 24.7% women MPs in the 2011 election was a record high. So, as I continue to be asked why we need a cabaret of monologues filled with women’s stories and why we need to produce FemFest every year, I try to practice patience.

Most of all, as I watched our fabulous actors perform the monologues yesterday and bring to life a wide array of women, I realized that we have a lot to celebrate and a lot of work to do – but a bit of humour, inspiration and mutiny never hurts!

Check out full details on the event!

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