Commemorating 101 years, International Women's Day celebrations worldwide will mark its theme to connect with girls and inspire their futures. (iStock)
Building on a 101-year-old tradition, International Women's Day, is being celebrated Thursday under the banner to connect with girls and inspire their futures.
Over one million men and women honoured the day for the first time in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, marching in rallies vying for women's right to work, vote and hold public office.
It has since grown into a global day of action recognizing women's achievements and highlighting barriers that are yet to be broken.
In honour of the theme, the CBC Community team asked for Twitter advice from leading Canadian women -- on Parliament Hill, at Toronto City Hall, in the boardroom and on the ice -- about what they would say to their teenaged self.
A handful of women responded with what they wished they had known back in the hallways of their high schools.
@Lakshine I'd say trust your gut instincts and learn to manage your time and energy and...have some fun!:)-- Hayley Wickenheiser(@wick_22) March 1, 2012
- Carolyn Bennett, Liberal Member of Parliament, St. Paul's
- Judy Rebick, Activist, writer
- Kristyn Wong-Tam, City councillor, Toronto-centre Rosedale
Liberal Member of Parliament, St. Paul's
She was a straight-A student at an all-girls private school in Toronto, playing ice hockey and raising dollars for summer camp.
"It wasn't a sort of social life that was about boys," except for when it was time for the school dance, she quips.
After falling sick in Grade 9, Bennett had to play catch up with her dream.
"Once I figured out I wanted to be a doctor, I was driven."
But not every student was so studious. There was an in-crowd - those who chased boys - and an out-crowd - those who chased books.
"There was a certain segregation of the people who were focused on school and the people who were focused on social life or boys."
So long as she arrived at her destination - a degree in medicine at the University of Toronto - Bennett cared little for the so-called cool girls. There were mean girls, too, but they were not worth hurt feelings, she says.
"You really don't have to worry what the jerks think of you," she says "Wanting to be liked by everyone is not necessarily a wise course."
She took her own advice in 1989 when she opposed the merger of Women's College Hospital and Toronto General Hospital. A member of the TGH's board crossed the street to avoid speaking with her.
"I'm sticking to my principles and I cannot worry what they think."
When Judy Rebick was in her teens, not only were girls not seen to be able to do well in math or physics or chemistry, they were told they should not.
@Lakshine You are smarter than you think.You can do whatever you want to do in life.Follow your heart.-- judyrebick (@judyrebick) March 7, 2012
Girls cannot be doctors; girls cannot study science were regular mantras, she says, repeated by her family, her teachers, her peers and the mainstream media.
But she did it anyway. Eventually, she would earn an undergraduate degree in science.
"I did whatever everybody told me I couldn't."
Breaking convention was the norm for Rebick. But what she wanted to
do was write, she says, and it would take years for her to return to it.
By rebelling, she moved further from it, studying science in university
instead of English.
"Instead of letting my heart define what I did, I let other people define it."
A self-proclaimed rebel, Rebick,valued her unmarried and childless
aunt, who always seemed happier than her own mother, at a time when
marriage and having children were pushed to the top of the priority
list, she says.
"She seemed a lot happier than my mother," she says. "She did that on her own."
But in her teens, she was lacking a strong female role model.
"I think it made me a little bit more independent than I might have been otherwise."
Now in her late 60s and still a rebel, she says, she wrestles with the thought of being a role model herself.
"I haven't really followed convention at all personally or in my career," she says.
"You have to have a lot of drive and courage to live like I did."
City councillor, Toronto-centre Rosedale
"I was very shy in high school," she says. "Largely, because I was coming out of the closet."
A timid teen, Wong-Tam says she had little self-confidence, trying to navigate the turbulent teen years and her sexuality.
"I didn't want people to know I was gay."
When she came out at 16, she sought refuge with an older LGBT community.
"They moved through their world and the community with such freedom and independence," she says. "I knew that's what I wanted."
And it is what she wants for young gay teenagers, hiding their sexuality or being ostracized for it.
"We need to demonstrate to them that they are safe," she says.
At first, her parents were not accepting.
"I had to struggle with explaining to my parents who I was."
"After a few years of conversation, dialogue and education...they came around," she says.
"Today they are my biggest supporters."
Equally, she says, her biggest inspiration is her mother who spoke little English but worked hard and emboldened her daughters to strive high.
"Because mommy is smart, her daughters are smart," her mother would say.
Now, inside Toronto City Hall, Wong-Tam says she is a role model -- an obligation she assigns to all women in leadership.
"That's the way I see myself," she says."Now that I'm here in this position of political power, how can I open the doors for others?"
The CBCNews.ca Community team wants to hear what advice you would give your teenaged self. Post your note-to-self in the comments below, in our Facebook group or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet us @cbccommunity.
We'll share some of your advice in a community comments piece.
Meet the Community Team
CBC News Community team, from left to right: Andrew Yates, Lauren O'Neil, John Bowman
If you're part of the CBC News community, you're likely to meet one of us: we're the folks working to produce and promote your stories. Read more about us.
Other Your Community Entries
- 2013 (747)
- Barnaby Jack mourned by fellow hackers, friends, fans
- Pakistani TV show hands out babies in Ramadan ratings battle
- Weiner scandal sparks 'sexting' debate
- Russia's anti-gay laws prompt vodka, Olympics boycott
- Automated bots reserve tables at restaurants before you can
- Japanese teens sell ad space on thighs
- Is Google Chromecast the future of TV?
- Vaccine denier Jenny McCarthy pick as View host worries experts
- Pope Francis becomes cellphone celebrity in Brazil
- Jane Austen to be the new face of the £10 note
- Great Canadians Near You: Jeremy Dias
- Party hats top surveillance cameras for George Orwell's birthday
- Google recruits Street View mapping volunteers
- New Yorker recruits Bert and Ernie to celebrate same-sex marriage ruling
- '3-parent' fertility treatments sparks reader debate
- School kids correct celebrity grammar mistakes on Twitter
- Calgary's kids create adorable thank-you notes for volunteers
- Wendy Davis pink trainers sell big online
- June photo contest: How do you start your morning?
- Do you think the Queen deserves a raise?
- Generation Why says farewell for now
- 'Prancercise' founder sashays across the web
- Readers debate merits of anti-bullying video depicting suicide
- Fired Mayor Ford chief of staff laughs it up on Twitter
- Amish teens on Rumspringa rush for Facebook
- Grumpy Cat goes from meme to movie star
- CBCNews.ca readers react to the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler
- Facebook to crack down on gender-based hate following outcry
- Bank of Canada cries fraud on $90K 'Duffy buck' cartoon
- Canadians react to the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler
- Illegal wildlife trade thrives on the 'dark web'
- Stanford students seek bone marrow match for beloved professor
- Google Glass user's shower photo freaks out internet
- Canada's new polymer notes get orbital boost
- Inmates use Yelp to review prison conditions
- Canadians react to foreign worker program changes
- VOTE: April Photo Contest Finalists
- Alberta public employees, government tweet across the picket line
- Fashion-savvy seniors flaunt 'Advanced Style'
- Praise rolls in for gay NBA player Jason Collins
- Generation Why: March 29
- Prominent Canadians bid farewell to Ralph Klein on Twitter
- Ralph Klein: Share your condolences
- Vera Wang ditches $500 'try-on' fee in China following global outcry
- Live Online replay: The star power of pandas
- B.C. ad evokes Amanda Todd to warn against 'just one photo'
- 'Stop rape' dislodging 'stay safe' advice on social media
- Brands support same-sex marriage in U.S. debate
- 'Rent a Mourner' fills your funeral with fake friends
- Ogooglebar! Sweden's spat with Google inspires 'ungoogleable' fun
- REPLAY Pope Benedict resigns: What's next for the Catholic church?
- Russian 'ghost' ship has Twitter intrigued
- Beijing woman's dummy tummy stunt on Subway causes outrage
- CPC, Wildrose, CBC line up to cut ties to Flanagan
- Vote for our February photo contest winner
- Married couple sought for millionaire's Mars mission
- Boeing's bid to replace CF-18s gets CBCNews.ca readers talking
- Vatican scrubs @pontifex Twitter account
- Rosa Parks statue unveiled on Capitol Hill
- Morrissey and Jimmy Kimmel in feud over Duck Dynasty
- Opposites attract: Tell us your unlikely love story
- Youth for hire: employing 'Generation Jobless'
- Fired HMV employees take over Twitter account
- Toronto company puts your head on a Pez dispenser
- Perfume for babies released by Dolce & Gabbana
- U.S. man shot in driveway mix-up mourned online
- World reacts to new Blackberry phones, Alicia Keys hire
- Will BlackBerry 10 turn things around for the company?
- Is Volkswagen's new Super Bowl Commercial racist?
- Graphic porn invades Twitter's Vine app
- July (131)