International Women's Day – A Canadian Female Business Lawyer perspective

Last week I attended a fantastic International Women’s Day (IWD) dinner in Halton, Ontario. There were over 900 attendees, most were women, but some men attended the event as well.

I was at a table of all women. Four of us, including myself, own law firms. Four were employed by the lawyers. One was a self-employed business woman and one was a semi-retired business woman. Our ages ranged from early 30s to early 60s. As I looked around at the other tables, I saw other women I recognized: Superior Court Judges, teachers and more lawyers than you could shake a stick at. What an accomplished group of women. More importantly, what a large group of accomplished women.

The main speaker was Sally Armstrong – a journalist who has covered women’s rights around the world. Ms. Armstrong believes that things are improving for women globally due to the personal will of individual women around the world to take control of their situation.

As is often the case at IWD events, there were a few introductory speakers who mentioned how difficult the plight of women is in Canada.

Sitting in that room at the table of lawyers, many of us who were the first in our family to be lawyers and most of us were not from privileged backgrounds, I could not help but think that claiming it’s hard to be a woman in Canada is detracting from women who truly have difficulty achieving equality throughout the world.

Ms. Armstrong gave numerous examples of women in developing countries who do not have the same access to opportunities that we do in Canada, yet those women do not see that as an obstacle to achieving their success: they have the personal will to attain their goals.

Women in Canada have the opportunity to achieve the goals they set for themselves: they need the personal will to attain those goals. No one can do the hard work for someone else: if you don’t want something, you will not achieve it.

Of course, it’s hard to be motivated to reach for a goal when accomplishments are being undermined by those who say we are equal because it’s 2016, rather than because we have worked hard and are just as educated and capable as men. Everyone needs to work hard to attain a goal in order to be successful: if something is simply handed to you, you become complacent and don’t strive to be more.

It’s 2016. Women in Canada have the same opportunities as men and many of us seize those opportunities and are successful. However, if you are not willing to work hard, you shouldn’t expect the same results – you don’t get to succeed just because you are a woman in 2016.

Inga B. Andriessen JD