International Women’s Day is often framed as a day to celebrate groundbreaking achievements and society wide change enacted by women throughout history, and Nicola Valley Women in Action says while that’s certainly a part of it – the day is also about recognizing the countless ways that women in Merritt make a difference every day. 

Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, where the public events that day drew over 1 million people who showed their support. In 1975, the United Nations declared that year as International Women’s Year, and began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. Ahead of this year’s celebration, the Herald sat down with Megan Fulcher, a board director for Nicola Valley Women in Action, to talk about the group’s continued local efforts to recognize and celebrate local women nominated by their family, friends, and fellow community members. 

“What I love about it is that it’s an opportunity to highlight all of the small or big things that women do in our community that are often unrecognized, because it could be that caretaker role,” said Fulcher.

“I think one of my favourite nominations was a lady who nominated her neighbour, because when she was sick, the neighbour went and picked up groceries for her. It doesn’t have to necessarily be this massive movement, it can be and some of our nominees have been, but it can also just be small things.”

NVWIA has been hosting their annual celebration for nearly two decades, with this year’s ceremony recognizing local women being their 19th. The organization’s board of directors, which consist of Fulcher and six others, work year round to organize the International Women’s Day event, which usually consists of that year’s nominees receiving their awards, followed by a reception. 

Nominations are open year round, although a January deadline is set for the March ceremony, and are open to anyone looking to nominate a woman in their life that has made an impact on them or the community. Fulcher noted that there is no adjudication process for nominations, besides verifying basic information.

“Over the years, we’ve had many people decline, and often it’s because they don’t think they’ve done anything special,” noted Fulcher.

“We don’t turn away any nominations, because somebody obviously thought it was worth their time to nominate the people, so they made enough a difference in their lives.”

In addition to organizing annual International Women’s Day programming, NVWIA also administers the Merritt RCMP’s Victim Services program, which is made up of a specialized team of case workers within the detachment who are committed to providing support and vital services to those affected by crime and their families. Both case workers were nominated as a part of this year’s celebration.

Fulcher said that NVWIA invited everyone to join in on the celebration, and urged Merrittonians to submit any nominations for next year’s event throughout the year. This year’s International Women’s Day celebration will be held on March 8 from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Merritt Civic Centre, and will feature the recognition ceremony, young local musicians playing piano, refreshments, and cake. 

For more information, or to make a nomination for next year year’s International Women’s Day celebration, send NVWIA an email at [email protected].