Column: Celebrating International Women’s Day

Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8.

Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Over a century ago, the first International Women’s Day marked the ongoing struggle for a woman’s right to work, vote, hold public office and end gender discrimination.

On this day, in many regions all over the world — we celebrate the progress made by women, their acts of courage, respect and love and the appreciation towards women for their economic, political and social achievements in the history of their countries and communities. I will be joining others in our community in the celebration at the Billy Barker Casino Hotel Showroom in Quesnel.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is, Make It Happen.

In 2013, women accounted for almost 38 per cent of self-employed people in B.C.; that is above the national average of 36.3 per cent and the second highest rate among the provinces. Organizations like the Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC), a leading business resource centre for women who are starting, purchasing or growing a small business in our province, have been instrumental in helping women entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. This is through one-to-one mentoring and advisory forums designed to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of women in B.C.

Right now there are also approximately 3,900 registered women apprentices in B.C., representing 10.5 per cent of all registered apprentices. That’s up from 8.5 per cent in 2009.

Also, over the next decade, there will be more than one million job openings in B.C., 44 per cent of which are expected to be trades or technical occupations. Doors are opening for women who want to pursue careers as electricians, sheet-metal workers, plumbers, carpenters or heavy equipment operators — just to name a few.

Let us recognize and honour the achievements of the women who touch our lives: our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends, colleagues and business owners as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and is the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.