I am celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing stories from the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO).

‘Ordinary to Extraordinary’ is a collection of real-life stories of 150 women that were compiled as a project to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

A big thank-you to Irene Robillard, Burnstown Women’s Institute, FWIO Canada 150 Chair, who put the project together.

“At an age when volunteerism among young people is declining and access to information is increasing rapidly due to the Internet, the original focus of the Women’s Institute (WI) branches to bring women together for educational opportunities and friendship may seem lost and antiquated. However, I believe that we need to inspire younger women to join the WI in order to keep such an important rural organization active. There is and always will be a role for women to improve rural life, to give back to our communities, and to keep traditions alive.” Sara MacKenzie, Calabogie WI, Renfrew South District

Every year, March 8 marks International Women’s Day – a celebration of the outstanding contributions of women around the world. It is also an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of Women in our community.

In addition to Sara MacKenzie, congratulations to (the late) Henderina (Hennie) Schaly, Calabogie WI; Marlene Schaly and Adele McLeod Burnstown WI; Jo-Anne Camelon White Lake WI; Hilda Radke, Sara Campbell and Lynn Clelland, Balsam Hill-Horton WI, (South Renfrew District); Doreen Jackson Greenwood WI, Arla Bailey, Judy Bohn and Julie Coulas Alice Locksley Rankin WI; Sheila Broome and Sheila Wallace, Queensline WI; and past Ontario WI President Christine Reaburn of the Zion Line Beachburg WI for sharing their stories.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world as a day to recognize women’s achievements and a call to action to advance gender equality.

The first International Women’s Day was held on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, when more than one million people participated in public events.

The United Nations began celebrating IWD on March 8 in 1975, later adopting a resolution designating it as International Women’s Day.

Each year, the United Nations selects an International Women’s Day theme, and this year it is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.”

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