HeForShe and the need to never stop working towards gender equity

HeForShe Get Free Tour

The University of Waterloo was the first stop on the special HeForShe Get Free Tour this morning that brought representatives from HeForShe and United Nations Women to our campus. The Tour stop brought excitement and support to our campus with guest speakers, corporate HeForShe partners from DeBeers and special celebrity guest Edgar Ramirez, all sharing the importance of building a university and society that is truly equitable. The outpouring of support of those from across our campus community this morning was truly inspiring.

Keeping the momentum moving forward

The strides we’ve made in achieving our HeForShe commitments have been nothing but extraordinary since launching our campaign for equity in 2015. I am proud of our progress, but it doesn’t – and cannot – stop at progress. Waterloo’s HeForShe journey has only been possible through our continued effort to take energy like we saw today and turning it into consistent action every day.

We’ve eliminated the pay gap between our men and women identified faculty members. We’ve significantly increased the number of women senior leaders. We’ve increased the number of women undergraduate and graduate students. And, we’ve stepped up our efforts to educate and empower men to be an active part of building an equitable community – because this is not a women’s issue. It is an everyone issue.

Advancements in equity takes everyone

We cannot achieve prosperity and advances in our society without an equitable and respectful society. When we all have a seat at the table and are working together, we are a more powerful force. This is without question. And, those who identify as women cannot and should not do it alone.

One significant thing has been missing from past generations of movements aimed at gender equity. Men have routinely stayed on the sidelines. Men need to step up and be an active part of the solution. Not just by holding a sign and tweeting a message of support, but through action.

There are so many ways for men to get involved in the movement right here at Waterloo. Take a training workshop through our Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Office. Volunteer as a HeForShe Faculty Advocate. Or, simply listen to the women around them and learn from their experiences and their thoughts.

But it takes all of us.

Make the commitment and be HeForShe

The rally this morning and the discussions taking place today and across Canada through the Get Free Tour are wonderful. They build excitement and raise the issue of gender equity for thousands of Canadians and puts it right in their face. We need to take the energy and action from today and keep it going after the cheering stops, the cupcakes are eaten and the speeches are done.

I challenge everyone here today to commit to the HeForShe movement and all that it stands for. Show this by heading to the HeForShe website and press the “I Commit” button. It’s free and takes ten seconds to do. Show the commitment I know is in each of you and be the change we need.

We have made so much progress, but this is a journey of establishing and then maintaining equity and we cannot do that alone.

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