In celebration of International Women’s Day and the theme of pressing for progress, two University of Waterloo students organized Woman2018—an event that brought members of the Kitchener-Waterloo community together to celebrate women. The proceeds from the event went to the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre.
“I had this idea of getting lots of different people together, showing a lot of different diversity, and having representation from the art and the tech community. I wanted something that was fun and uplifting, but also something that brought a lot of diverse perspectives together,” Woman2018 co-organizer Laura Morrison said.
The event featured artworks by Faith Ashford, Kaylee Lock-O’Connor, and Shayla Giroux, each focusing on themes surrounding women.
The event also hosted three speakers who all spoke of their experiences as women and the intersectionality they are part of.
United Church Minister Jenn Hind spoke on gender equality and equal rights as a lesbian clergy member.
“Intersectionality serves as a framework for understanding the class, race, sexual orientation, disability, and gender do not exist separately from one another but are complexly interwoven,” Hind said. “When I am playing in the traffic of social advocacy for women’s rights, LGBTQ2+ rights, and the progression of women clergy, I must be mindful that I do not claim to speak as if I know the experiences of a transgender individual whose culture and race is different than mine although we may share some commonalities.”
The next speaker was Lori Campbell, a Cree Métis woman and Waterloo Aboriginal Centre director, who talked about her journey as an Indigenous woman, from being taken away from her family and relocating them, to fighting for the rights of Indigenous women.
Campbell talked about her aunt Maria and said, “I’ve only been working in the area of reconciliation for 20 years and I’ve been asked to answer the same questions, and my answers are the same as auntie Maria’s. I recognize that I have a responsibility to continue the work of all my aunties, and unfortunately there is no shortage of this work.”
Director of Community Engagement and Outreach for the Coalition of Muslim Women Fauzia Baig also spoke at the event on the stigma of being a Muslim woman saying, “Islamophobia can take many forms … Sometimes it’s the feeling you get when you walk into a room, the way someone looks at you, to verbal attacks, assaults. It’s so prevalent in our daily lives, intertwined in media and television, I really have to be very mindful of what my kids are watching.”
When it comes to the goal of Woman2018, Morrison said, “I really hope people will get involved with different areas of the community. What I would like to see is the community to come together in a more dynamic way, because there are lots of ways we can work together and be better.”