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Women's Day still essential until there's true equality

With International Women's Day on a Saturday this year the Mayor held his annual event today, inviting the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime to speak.

The mayor said he faces many questions about why there's still a need for an annual celebration.

Until there's real equality, Jim Watson said, he will continue to mark International Women's Day each year.

"To not only remember the fact that there is still bigotry and sexism and racism in our community, and homophobia, but also we want to celebrate what women have contributed in our society over many, many years," said Watson.

He said the recent comments about the female president of the Ottawa U students' union and a sexist letter written to a female WestJet pilot highlight the need to continue to fight for women's rights.

Guest speaker Sue O'Sullivan served for 30 years as an Ottawa Police officer, eventually becoming the deputy chief of police, before taking the post of Ombudsman for Victims of Crime in 2010.

She said one area that inequality is evident is in violent crime and she saw the inequality when she was serving as an officer and now as the ombudsman.

"We know that women are victims of violence in a large proportion, be it domestic violence or sexual assault, be it reported or not. Women need supports in our community for the challenges that they are facing," she said, applauding the work of advocates in Ottawa.

O'Sullivan said one of the most important things women in power can do now is mentor others.

"Continue to make yourselves availabe to women in our community, and young women who want to enter into jobs because they don't know how to access you. They don't know how to access and ask. We've been fortunate through our careers to learn a lot of things and we need to be sharing that with other women in our community," she said.

She said society has a long way to go, even here in Canada, to achieve true equality for women.

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