By TOM GODFREY
Singer Liberty Silver and former MP Jean Augustine were among the many women in Toronto and across the world who took part in International Women’s Day activities to celebrate their achievements.
As hundreds of women marched in downtown Toronto, others took part in dozens of gatherings across the city.
More than 30 women took part in a community breakfast to mark the day at the Jean Augustine Centre for Women’s Empowerment in Etobicoke.
“We are very fortunate that we live here in this great country,” Augustine told Share. “We have a lot to be grateful for in Canada.”
The former Liberal MP and outgoing Ontario Fairness Commissioner said women are suffering in many conflict areas of the world, where they are trying to obtain an education or basic human rights.
Connie Dejak, Chief Executive Officer of the Runnymede Healthcare Centre, said the day provides women an opportunity to enjoy their successes.
“It is important to get women together to celebrate our accomplishments,” Dejak told Share. “Today also allows us to focus on what has to be done.”
She said women still have a long way to go to obtain equality in the gender gap.
“Sometimes it feels like we are moving backwards,” said Dejak. “We are not close to being equal as men.”
Silver, a two-time Juno Award winner, said women have to support each other to move ahead.
“Everyone has the power to change the world,” she said. “We as women have a long way to go and a lot of issues to face.”
Silver, who once opened for reggae icon Bob Marley in a concert at Madison Square Garden, said there has to be more positive role models in the community.
“When we come together and support each other we can change the world,” she told Share. “We can change the mindset of other women.”
Popular Toronto actress and former model, Linda V. Carter, said it is uplifting for women to have a day dedicated to them and their issues.
“This is really an important day for women,” Carter told Share. “I have two daughters and I know it is important for women to be empowered.”
Her family has been celebrating the day with their children for many years.
“When you empower a woman, you empower the world,” she said. “It is a positive message for women all over.”
Carter in 2012 completed a TV documentary “The Making of a Judge”, that is based on the accomplishments of her father, Justice George E. Carter.
She also performed in a 2000 TV movie, “Hendrix”, based on the life of rock icon, Jimi Hendrix.
Meanwhile, hundreds attended the annual downtown march with women calling for pay equity, better child care and other changes.
Some were calling for police action on the more than 1,200 indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered over the past three decades in Canada.
The day was first celebrated in 1911 when more than a million women attended rallies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. At that time they were calling for the right to vote, work and hold public office.