UW advocates for gender equality

In 2014, UN Women launched the HeForShe campaign headed by goodwill ambassador, Emma Watson.

With a mission of gender equality, UN women sought out 30 international partners to act as their impact champions in the IMPACT 10x10x10. The partners were grouped into three categories: head of state champions, university champions and corporate champions. Among the list of chosen partners is the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, Feridun Hamdullahpur. Not only was UW the only Canadian university represented, they were the only Canadian representation at all. According to Diana Parry, the president’s special advisor on women and gender issues, the UN approached UW for two very specific reasons.

“They were looking to work with university presidents that had a commitment to gender equity, which we had in president Hamdullahpur. He developed the first equity office at the University of Waterloo and appointed our first director of equity,” said Parry.

“They also were attracted to Waterloo because we are a STEM-focused university and as a result, we have more males on campus than we do females and they were attracted to that opportunity for us to make a larger impact with that sort of awareness and advocacy piece that they framed the HeForShe campaign around.”

Each of the individual partners were asked to address gender parity within their own sector. Under this framework, UW created three different initiatives they will aim to carry out by 2020.

“This is to increase the number of girls and women in our STEM outreach experiences and activities. The second is to increase the number of women in tenure tract positions and the third is to increase the number of women in positions that lead the university,” said Parry.

During the 71st UN General Assembly on September 20, all ten of the universities involved in the IMPACT 10x10x10 announced concrete commitments they have made to further the development of gender equality on campuses.

“I also think it’s really important to talk about these issues in our individual campus but to join a global collective to say these are issues that don’t just happen in Canada or the U.S. or Hong Kong or Japan. These are issues that are happening around the world and to have ten university presidents, 10 global corporations and 10 heads of states look at those issues from a global perspective and start a global conversation about change is critical to really changing the gendered dynamics that we’re seeing today,” said Parry.

Their participation in this conference follows a study done by the university which adjusted for a gendered parity found among their faculty members.

Leave a Reply