A Robust Society is a Feminist Society

Feminist as in women and men making the world a better place together. As in honouring all life. As in being able to do more than one thing at the same time such as taking care of our children, families, food, fish, air and birds while also taking care of our economy. As in understanding that giving birth to justice, equality and peace is painful. As in knowing that vulnerability and strength are not opposites. As in transcending patriarchy.

To acknowledge International Women’s Day here are ten change-making movements infused with feminism.

  • Earth Democracy (Navdanya) inspired and informed by the remarkable Vandana Shiva. Women centred movement for the protection of biological and cultural diversity. Seed banks, food sovereignity, protection of family farms, addressing genetic manipulation of food, biopiracy and climate change. “Seeds of truth.”
  • First Widespread Consumer Boycott in 1790’s – against slave grown sugar imported from the Caribbean. Initiated and led by women. Led to the abolition of the British slave trade.
  • Great Bear Rainforest – divergent interests brought together to save the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest in western British Columbia. The remarkable story behind this historic agreement chronicled in the National Observer by Elizabeth McSheffrey. A 21st century template for feminist change-making.
  • Green Belt movement founded by Wangari Maathai. First African woman to receive Nobel Prize. Planting trees to combat deforestation, soil erosion, restore a source of fuel and generate income. “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.”
  • Idle No More – grassroots advocacy movement honouring Indigenous sovereignty and protection of the environment. The latest manifestation of centuries old resurrection from colonization and the ravages of the fur trade.
  • La Leche League – shifted the world away from feeding newborns bottle-fed, commercial pablum. Started by seven self- described ‘ordinary’ mothers in suburban Chicago. Their secret – dividing everything into “mother-sized jobs.” Listen to my interview with founder Marian Thomson here.
  • Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo played a decisive role in ending the Argentinian dictatorship (1976-83). Courageous defiance of state terrorism to raise awareness of their missing children, “the disappeared.” Inspiring peace activists everywhere. “We don’t defend ideologies, we defend life.”
  • People First representing the views of people with developmental disabilities. Led, legitimized and inspired by the remarkable Barb Goode. First self-advocate and first Canadian with a disability to address the UN. Plain language pioneer. Like too many women, unacknowledged and underappreciated. “Label jars not people,” says Barb. Indeed.
  • Women’s InstituteAdelaide Hoodless started it in Stoney Creek Ontario in 1897. Now in more than seventy countries. Credited with launching the first wave of feminism.
  • Women’s Liberation Movement – Second wave of feminism informed by Bonnie Sherr Klein, Muriel Duckworth, Cindy BlackstockDoris Anderson, Jeanette Vivian Lavell, Viola Desmond, Thérèse Casgrain, Rosemary Brown, Laura Sabia, Shari Graydon, Simone de Beauvoir and so many more.

Just getting started. Could have included Ai-jen Poo’s Poo’s Caring Across Generations or MADD or Nancy Neamtan and the Québec Social Economy. Who would you include?

Bonus: Check out this new book by Shari Graydon, OMG:What if I really AM the best person? – The Top 7 Reasons Women Should Speak Up.


It’s rather simplistic but that’s what it is: That there is room for redemption and hope, however grim things are; that the human spirit does have that ability to do something that is selfless, even under the most horrendous circumstances.   

     Deepa Mehta, filmmaker

Listenning pleasure this post is “Atomic Number” by the marvellous new collaborative of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs. Here them sing, “Well, if your mercy’s lost I have enough for us”

Also check out “Carry On” by Coeur de Pirate.

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