International Women’s Day highlights progress of women

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Photo by Sharan Rana

March 8, 2018, was International Women’s Day and Women 2018 hosted a successful event in Downtown Kitchener to highlight the progress of women today and movements still to come.

The Women 2018 event, which  sold out, featured speakers and artists meant to capture the many problems women continue to face in 2018. The event also aimed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.   

Speakers included Jenn Hind, Lori Campbell, Fauzia Baig and the featured artists were Faith Ashford, Kaylee Lock-O’Connor and Shayla Giroux.

“[The turnout] was great, better than I expected. When we first started our goal was just 75 people. Then there was so much interest we bumped it up and we had over 100 people that ended up coming out,” Laura Morrison, organizer of Women 2018, said. “There is so much strength and resilience in women and especially when women come together,” Morrison said.

Speakers shared stories with the audience about women who have inspired them in the past. Jenn Hind focused on the intersection of oppression and spoke about the marginalized experience of African American women.

“It’s really important to talk about the concept of intersectionality because, although the term is 30 years old, people aren’t talking about it. People are talking about the ways to focus on our commonalities,” Hind said. “I think we need to better understand these differences, so we can honour the uniqueness of the diversity of the human race.”

“I think it is important to have organizations where women can come together and support each other and feel empowered, even with art I feel that people can be connected,” Moyra McKinnon, a Wilfrid Laurier University student said.

“We’re stronger together and if we recognize and honour our differences then we can step into our commonalities and impact the world,” Hind said.

Lori Campbell highlighted the experience of Indigenous people and, in specific, Indigenous women, while also sharing her story of the effects of residential schools as a child.

Fauzia Baig’s speech focused on Muslim women in communities and highlighted various struggles that many visible minorities face.

“We breathe in discrimination and how that effects you. I think that if we take a step back to realize ‘how has this effected me? How is this smog affecting me? Am I reacting differently to the world?’” Baig said. “If we reflect on that and are conscious of it then I think we can each do better individually and collectively.”

International Women’s Day began in 1914 and has since been celebrated on March 8 all over the globe to recognize women’s achievements.

“I think it is important to have organizations where women can come together and support each other and feel empowered, even with art I feel that people can be connected,” Moyra McKinnon, a Wilfrid Laurier University student said.

One of the hopes for the Women 2018 event was to unify the technology, art and community social programs in the KW Region in one event.

Women 2018 partnered with Terminal and Smile.io, two local tech companies. In addition, all proceeds were donated to the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre at St. Mary’s Hospital.

“Women who have experienced anything such as sexual assault or harassment, anything, to combine people’s stories to see that you have people there for you. I think that’s huge,” Hope Reichert, a Conestoga College student said.

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