From faculty to first-years, progress on gender inequality can be felt across campus. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, UW President Feridun Hamdullahpur took to the world stage to present the fruit of Waterloo’s efforts.

Joining the ranks of university presidents from across North America, Hamdullahpur marked the second annual HeforShe IMPACT 10x10x10 Parity Report in New York City, with a panel discussion on  progress made since joining the campaign in 2015.

Among other achievements, Hamdullahpur said the University of Waterloo has so far been able to accomplish a 35 per cent increase of women in STEM outreach, noting as well that 30 per cent of first-year engineering students are female.

In two short years since committing to the United Nation’s campaign for gender parity, these achievements are no small feat for on-campus equity. However, as Hamdullahpur reiterated, the university’s commitments extend far beyond the campaign’s initial goal of 2020.

“Gender equity is important to the whole world,” the president told Imprint.

“I cannot see… a future without this being addressed fully. I think the University of Waterloo takes it upon itself as our social responsibility, our educational responsibility that we need to be in a leadership position to ensure that we are.. not only addressing this [but] we are making it as part of our own mission.”

In terms of the continued quest for inclusivity, Hamdullahpur noted that changes can be expected to continue, “across the board.. from one end of the campus to the other.”

“I want it to become more and more and more diverse in terms of gender.. I want our campus to be an exemplary campus in terms of how inclusive it is and how welcoming it is and how we value and appreciate that inclusivity in everything we do, in all areas. For that, what our students.. not only will be saying, but what they will be doing, will be incredibly important.”

Building upon the university’s existing progress, the president acknowledged as well that “there’s a much broader aspect” to gender issues than parity alone.

In addition to current measures, Hamdullahpur said matters of gender identity too deserve the focus and commitment of the university.

“We are very keen on this,” he said. “We are addressing everything, from gender equity to inclusivity.”

In terms of catalysts for progress, the president had a hopeful message to share, stating that the largest potential for change rests with the student body itself.

Students can look forward to more active participation in the campaign by contacting their respective faculty representative via the HeforShe website, where Hamdullahpur assured students eager to contribute will be “welcomed with open arms.”

“[Students] are playing absolutely the most important role,” he said. “The more that you can participate, the stronger we’re going to get.”


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