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International Women’s Day on this tiny island

When I looked on my calendar last week I noticed that Saturday, March 8th, is International Women's Day.

When I looked on my calendar last week I noticed that Saturday, March 8th, is International Women's Day.

I recall hoping, when I noted the date, that I could get one of the indomitable, spirited and inspirational women I know on this island to write something to mark the occasion.

Then last deadline day, while I was unwinding at the pub a fellow patron started discussing his experience as a stay-at-home dad, and feeling utterly discriminated against in this role.

Interesting, and fodder for an article should plan A fall through.

Fast-forward past my "new-patient dental exam," the endless task of sorting spam from actual email, an epic meeting at the Municipality (they all feel epic to me) and I realize that it's deadline day and neither of these ideas have panned out. That's okay, there's always plan C.

I didn't miss it, several months ago, when news that the BC Supreme Court ruled that it's a mother's right to keep her baby, even if she happens to be in jail when that baby is born.

Bowen Island lawyer Geoffrey Cowper worked on behalf of the two former inmates of the Allouette Correctional Centre for Women who took the BC government to court because their newborn babies had been taken from them.

Another local, Samantha Sarra, sat on an international roundtable looking into incarcerated women and their children. I asked her about the significance of the case.

"First of all," she told me, "the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child states that the best interests of the child needs to be primary, something our current criminal justice system does not adequately take into account. But also, most of the women in Canadian jails are mothers, and most of them are single mothers, which means they are the sole providers for their children. Taking their babies away during that critical period not only hurts the women, but it also hurts their children's chances at a healthy future."

Sarra also says that research in the U.S. has shown that when men end up in prison, their kids end up in the care of family members 90 percent of the time. When women are incarcerated, there is only a 10 percent chance that her children will be cared for by family.

So women's issue, yes, but wider issue that has a huge impact on society as a whole? Absolutely.

Personally, I think most "women's issues" fall in to this same category.

So here's plan C: it's International Women's Day, the perfect excuse for writing about the fact that there are people on this island doing great work that makes life better for women, for their kids, and for the world.