International Women's Day

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March 9, 2014

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. First celebrated in 1911, it has become an opportunity to reflect on the progress towards gender equality and highlight the significant work left to do.

Marcia Ien speaking at the GKWCC International Women's Day breakfast

Marcia Ien speaking at the GKWCC International Women’s Day breakfast

I had the opportunity to attend two local International Women’s Day events, each featuring compelling personal stories of prominent women.

At the 18th annual breakfast hosted by the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, Marci Ien of Canada AM spoke eloquently about her journey, weaving in family stories and reflections as a mentor to the next generation. She noted that her son, Dash, is named after critical advice she received from her father: the most important part of life is not the year you were born or the year you died, but what happens in the dash that separated the two.

In the evening, I heard Dean of Engineering, Pearl Sullivan, speak about her journey at the annual dinner hosted at the University of Waterloo by the Women’s Studies department and the Federation of Students’ Women’s Centre.

Dean Sullivan speaking at uWaterloo event.

Dean Sullivan speaking at the uWaterloo International Women’s Day dinner.

She observed that more than 80% of the engineers designing our future technologies are male, meaning the female perspective is virtually absent. A future designed to work for all of us requires a much higher percentage of our engineering graduates to be women.

These events are important. They highlight through stories the struggles still faced by women, and galvonize us to come together to continue to push for equal opportunity. I am so pleased that our community supports these events, allowing important stories to be told that we can all use to make a better Waterloo and a better world.