Every year, International Women’s Day (IWD) arrives with mixed emotions for me.

It is a day of optimism that we may create a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. It is a day of celebration and solidarity as we honour the progress we’ve made on those aspirations. But it is historically a day to protest the continued injustice of gender inequality. And, in that light, IWD must also be a day of advocacy and action.

At United Way of Calgary and Area, it’s the need for action that motivates us. By too many metrics, women and girls are on unequal footing in our community. It is our responsibility to make our community better for all women and girls, especially those who are further marginalized by the intersection of many other issues.

This year, the theme of IWD is #InspireInclusion. True inclusion requires we break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected. When we ensure that women and girls are fully included in our society—that they have full and equal opportunity—we will be so much closer to the aspirations of International Women’s Day.

In my many years of public service in the social sector, I’ve learned that investment—both time and money—is a powerful tool to move the needle on inclusion and equity. Progress requires a thoughtful plan to strengthen the organizations and programs in our community that are committed to supporting women and girls across a wide spectrum of need.

United Way of Calgary and Area is making that investment. In 2024, we are committed to distributing more than $2.2 million to the following critical agencies in our community:

Each of these organizations are using their own expertise and areas of focus to support women and girls whether in moments of crisis or periods of opportunity. We are united in our objective to ensure women and girls in our community achieve their full potential. We are committed to creating an equitable city where all women and girls can thrive on their own terms.

On this International Day of Women, I hope you will join us to make our shared vision a reality. You can do this by either donating to the diversity of woman-focused programs we support through the Community Impact Fund or investing your time by volunteering for one of these incredible organizations.

Investing time is especially meaningful to me. On IWD, I reflect on my own privilege to have mentors who supported me throughout my life and career. Today is a day for me to reaffirm my commitment to being a mentor to the young women who are charting their own course in our community.

Part of that commitment is my own participation in Women United, and I hope you will join me. Consider it a way to take the power of International Women’s Day and turn it into ongoing action. This long-standing United Way initiative is a growing movement of more than 70,000 women around the world dedicated to creating equal opportunity for all. Its mission is to leverage our time, talent, and resources to empower all women in our community to build strong independent lives. 

Learn more about Women United

Whatever you do, know that your actions today will help us create a better tomorrow for us all.