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This Year’s International Women’s Day Theme Hits Home in Alberta

International Women's Day is a global high-five to women's achievements and a reminder that we've still got work to do

International Women’s Day (IWD), is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a day when everyone worldwide can recognize women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. 

It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. 

It also highlights the need to speed up making things equal between genders.

Each year, the day has a specific theme, and this year, the theme is “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.”

According to, “One of the key challenges in achieving gender equality by 2030 is an alarming lack of financing with a staggering US$360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender-equality measures.”

Investing in women is a cornerstone for building inclusive societies.

Alberta’s women entrepreneurs are not just creating jobs; they are on a mission to foster social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

Here in Alberta, we may feel that gender inequity is less of a problem than in other countries worldwide, but an income gap remains between men and women.

According to the Business Council of Alberta (BCA), “as of 2012, women’s income was only 60% that of men.”

Fortunately, by 2021, the BCA reported that the gap had narrowed and that “women now make about 72% of what men make.”

Even in Alberta, there is still a long way to go for wage parity, but progress is being made.


Women in Alberta Business

Did you know that 98% of registered businesses in Alberta are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees?

It’s difficult to get exact numbers of how many of these businesses women own, but of all people in Alberta calling themselves ‘self-employed’ in 2021, 36.8% were women

Owners of Kind Ice Cream in Edmonton |

So, men still have higher rates of self-employment than women.

Research shows that many self-employed women entrepreneurs are often motivated by social, environmental and social-economic goals when creating new businesses.

For example, Calgarian Vanessa Rundell operates PreservedYYC, which creates canned fruits and vegetables from local organic and regenerative farms. Rundell illustrates how one small business could help another small business and to keep Alberta’s produce on Alberta’s tables.

Paula Shyba, Nicole Bhar, and Candyce Morris started Kind Ice Cream in Edmonton to “make and serve exceptional ice cream and to create a culture of creativity, inclusion and engagement.”

As stated in their mission statement, “As women, queer and Indigenous-owned business, we believe that our differences should be celebrated, and we are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion both within our business and in the wider community.”

Lisa Kwong, a Calgary native, is the founder and owner of Sownsmith, a women-owned clothing brand that prioritizes sustainability. Its products are all crafted in Canada using ethically sourced and sustainable fabrics.

According to Kwong, “Sownsmith was founded to bring awareness and resources to the estimated 50 million people that are being trafficked around the world. Seven percent of Sownsmith’s profits will be donated to local and international organizations that fight human trafficking”

And on it goes, all across the province, women entrepreneurs are creating businesses that offer products that Albertans want but that give back in meaningful ways.


International Women’s Day origins trace back to the early 20th century. It grew out of  the labour movements across North America and Europe, which advocated for women’s rights, particularly regarding working conditions, voting rights, and equality.

Lisa Kwong, owner of Sownsmith | Emily Oud Photography

However, it wasn’t until 1975, during the International Women’s Year, that the United Nations officially began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. 

Since then, the IWD has evolved into a global celebration of women’s achievements and a reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality and women’s rights.

One of the best ways to celebrate International Women’s Day in Alberta is to support women-owned businesses like the ones mentioned above. 

Or check out these lists of awesome women-owned Alberta businesses that offer sustainable food options, this extensive list of women-owned businesses located within the Edmonton region, this list from Calgary, or this list of female-owned Indigenous companies. 

To check out women-owned businesses in your area, just Google “women-owned businesses in [your town],” and chances are you’ll get a list of wonderful businesses to support.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate how far women have come and acknowledge the ongoing efforts and struggles toward achieving full gender equality. 

It’s a day to stand in solidarity with women worldwide, uplift their voices, and work together towards a more equitable and just world.

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