Star public editor: The women’s revolution is not done yet

By Kathy English, public editor of the Toronto Star

I am of mixed mind about the day we devote to celebrating the rights of the women of the world.

By Kathy English, public editor of the Toronto Star

I am of mixed mind about the day we devote to celebrating the rights of the women of the world.

On one hand, International Women’s Day is a day to focus on both the gains in women’s equality and the continuing social and economic inequities in the lives of women around the globe.

On the other hand, the very fact that half the world’s population still requires a designated special day to remind the other half of our right to equality is a dismal reminder that in many ways our inherent equality is not yet fully and universally recognized.

The introduction this week of a new award to celebrate a journalist who is raising awareness about women’s equality issues in Canada and “aims to inspire an increase in the media coverage and voice of women in Canada” puts me in much the same ambivalent frame of mind.


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The award is named for former Toronto Star columnist, Michele Landsberg, a great journalist, feminist and role model for so many women in journalism and well beyond. Created by the Canadian Journalism Foundation, in association with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, this award is intended to acknowledge Landsberg’s trail-blazing work in advocating for the rights of women and also “inspire relentless and fearless journalists to consider Canadian news from a women’s equality perspective.

Mostly, I am delighted The Landsberg Award now exists and that it honours a feminist and journalist I have looked up to for as long as I have been a journalist. Still, the impetus for an award to spark more coverage of equality issues and encourage women’s voices in media is in some measure a dismal reminder that the revolution for women’s equality in media and beyond has some way to go yet.

Undoubtedly women in media, both in numbers and depiction, have come a long way since 1978 when Landsberg became the Star’s “woman columnist” and, as she tells us in her 2011 book, Writing the Revolution, became dedicated to “winkling out women’s hidden realities from the male-dominated news of the day.”

For 25 years, Landsberg’s Star columns gave us a smart feminist’s perspective on the news and issues of human rights and social justice. In writing passionately about women’s work and health, child care, abortion, sexual harassment, divorce and custody, incest, rape and racism, she made women and men take notice of inequality and injustice. She made a difference.

But, to use Landsberg’s words from a column she wrote after speaking at a 1992 “Women in the Media” conference in Ottawa: “So much progress, so many gains for women in the past two decades but so far to go before real equity is achieved.”

With another two decades since passed, where are we now in achieving that goal of “real equity?”

To continue reading this column, please go the thestar.com where it was originally published.


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