http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/dates/iwd/index_e.html INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY March 8, 2006 Beyond Laws: The Right to Be Me Did you know that March 8 is International Women's Day? Established in 1977 by the United Nations, this special day provides an opportunity to celebrate the progress made to advance equality for women and to assess the challenges that remain. This special day also provides an opportunity to consider steps to bring about equality for women in all their diversity. Canadians will celebrate International Women's Week from Sunday, March 5, to Saturday, March 11, 2006, with the highlight being International Women's Day on March 8. Theme The Canadian theme for International Women's Week 2006 is “Beyond Laws: The Right to be Me'', which addresses women's rights, women's diversity and the need to put words into action. 2006 marks the 25th anniversary of Canada's ratification of the most comprehensive international treaty on women's rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The law guarantees women and men equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities in all aspects of Canadian life. Much has been accomplished to put into place legal foundations such as the Canadian Human Rights Act, pay and employment equity laws, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and maternity and parental benefits. Despite these legal foundations, a gap remains between laws and the reality of women's lives. Many issues from the past, such as violence and poverty, have not been resolved. Today, as women join the labour force in record numbers, raise families and participate in their communities, barriers remain. These barriers keep women, whether they are Aboriginal women, women with disabilities, lesbians, single women, lone parents or women living in poverty, from realizing their full potential. The legal removal of barriers is not enough. We need to close the gap between the sexes in our daily lives. The 25-year wait for equality is over!