Planting the seeds: Why International Women’s Day is more than a one-day event

How events like the city’s She Governs panel fit into the bigger picture

By Krista Sylvester | March 8, 2022 |5:00 am

All of the women serving on Calgary city council including Mayor Jyoti Gondek took part in Monday's She Governs forum.

Photo: Submitted

Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow. 

That’s the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, which ties in well to an event the city held on Monday called She Governs, which was designed to encourage more young women to consider politics as a career. 

The objective of the She Governs program is to inspire young women to get involved in the political process by giving them the opportunity to become familiar with political institutions and those serving them locally.

Planting the seeds

Events like this are an important way to plant the seed and introduce the idea to today’s youth, says Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, who participated in the event alongside the other female councillors and Mayor Jyoti Gondek. 

“It’s about planting the seed and introducing the idea. The more we talk about it, the more we normalize it,” Penner says, adding it’s not only important for young women to see that but the public as well. 

Shannon Hazlett, chair of Equal Voice Calgary, agrees that events like She Governs are a great way to help improve gender equality, especially in politics. 

“Our goal is to inspire young women to get involved and to learn a bit more about the process, Hazlett says, adding the event couldn’t have happened at a better time than in tandem with International Women’s Day today. 

“It’s a great time to celebrate the milestones and achievements that women and girls have made. I also think it’s an important time to reflect on where we want to go in the future.”

Why women should be celebrated beyond today 

The general consensus is that International Women’s Day is an integral time to reflect on how far society has come and how far it still needs to go — but recognizing these things shouldn’t be just a one-day thing, Penner says.

“I have a great friend who says every day should be women’s space,” she says, adding even the way Women’s Day is celebrated is not exactly a full day. 

When you look at Women’s Day, it’s celebrated during the extra hours of the day, Penner points out, adding it has usually consisted of events before work, during lunch hours, or after hours.

“It’s important to celebrate women, whether it’s in politics, whether it’s in business, whether it’s in education, or in the many professions that women are a part of,” she says. 

“But we should celebrate them during regular hours. And it’s actually in some ways a bit of a slap in the face.”

When Women’s Day events are scheduled before hours or after hours, that makes the logistics more challenging. 

“We’re asking women to extend their days to celebrate women, which means extra child care… or hurdles and challenges they have to go through,” Penner says. 

“So yes, we need to be celebrating women. But I think we need to be mindful of what challenges we’re adding when we do those celebrations.” 

Here are a few ways to celebrate International Women’s Day events in Calgary this year 

International Women’s Day Launch Party: Banded Peak Brewing is launching a new beer in honour of International Women’s Day. The Soaring Violet Mimosa Sour Ale launch will include a performance by Mariya Stokes and proceeds from every violet mimosa sour ale sold will be donated to Elevate Aviation.

Calgary Women in Energy: Fluor Canada GROW, Calgary Women in Energy, and Canada Powered by Women are coming together to present a panel of industry experts to discuss the biases and struggles they’ve encountered, and how they overcame them.

Walrus Leadership Forum: The YWCA is presenting four notable speakers for its Walrus Leadership Forum. The focus of this forum is to take a look at what Canadians are doing to ensure women emerge from the pandemic stronger.

Health & Wellness with Community Natural Foods: To celebrate International Women’s Day, the 10th Avenue Community Natural Foods will be hosting a live cooking demo and free women’s health consultations from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be other celebrations at the other store locations as well.

Empowerment through Education: Women in Business is hosting a free networking event for International Women’s Day. The event takes place at MaKami College and features guest speakers who have overcome adversity to build successful businesses.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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