Examining International Women’s Day in Waterloo

Mar. 8 is known worldwide as International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women, their accomplishments and acknowledging the struggles they still continue to face.

“IWD is a opportunity to remember the women who fought for equality in the past and recognize the activists who continue to push for gender parity and human rights,” said Tarah Brookfield, associate professor in history and youth & children studies at Laurier in an email statement.

“It should also be an opportunity to have conversations about feminism and intersectionality that acknowledge that gender discrimination is not the only barrier that need to be confronted to achieve the goals of IWD.”

The day is supported by many businesses in Waterloo region hosting breakfasts or luncheons to embrace and empower women in their respective industries for continuing to excel in their fields despite always competing with male counterparts.

“It is also important not to forget the day’s radical origins – something that may be obscured in the corporate sponsorship in recent years,” Brookfield continued in her statement.

“Female factory workers and socialists started the event in 1909 to call attention to women’s limited economic and political rights.”

Laurier Alumni also hosted their third annual International Women’s Day luncheon, with last year’s theme as “Advancing Women in STEAM” and this year’s theme as “Women Building Thriving Communities: Food, Nutrition and Sustainable Practice”, hosting speakers who are not only knowledgeable on the topic but extremely respected in their job regardless of gender.

“Since the 1970s, when women’s history became a field of study, research into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary women in the past has increased our knowledge of Canada’s political, labour, family, immigration, military, and medical history,” Brookfield said.

“Being able to trace the roots of current struggles facing women has also been important to continuing efforts toward equal rights. In the last decade, the field has grown more diverse and inclusive, placing more focus on groups of women’s whose voices were

marginalized before – Indigenous women, Black women’s history, Queer women, and the history of girls.”

Though there is much support for women in tech and business in Waterloo region and at the Lazaridis School, but much work still needs to be done in order to get women to a level where they are not overqualified for jobs due to the fact they are overlooked for major positions due to gender.

“Unfortunately, the current economic climate means history as a discipline struggles to attract majors and universities’ reliance on part-time faculty instructors with few resources to conduct new research has stymied the ability of the next generation of historians to continue this important work,” Brookfield concluded in her statement.

Though IWD is only one day a year, many of these organizations continue to fight for women’s equality. Laurier is home to the club WILL, Women in Leadership Laurier, as well as Laurier Alumni hosting their Elevating Leaders Laurier panels that aim to encourage and manifest leadership positions for women currently at Laurier by connecting them with alumni and sharing their stories.

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