We heard passion and hope at the annual International Women’s Day Dinner last week. From our exceptional keynote speaker and Canada 150 Research Chair, Anita Layton, to our HeForShe Anthology writers and the group of dedicated community members, there were messages of hope and action. Hope and action to stand up to the challenges and setbacks that continue to plague our society and limit the potential of so many people.
The International Women’s Day movement has evolved as society has changed but action remains needed because sadly one thing hasn’t changed: not enough progress has been made.
The fight for gender equity is not isolated to a single day, single week or a single action. We must embrace the challenges those who identify as women, live with every day and march together to build true gender equity in all of its forms. Now is the time for all of us to start this journey because we need every ally that we can find.
Not settling for progress alone
There have been noticeable and measureable improvements at the University of Waterloo since our HeForShe commitment targets were set in 2015. We have made progress as an institution, but we cannot be satisfied with these accomplishments. Not yet.
There is more work to be done before all identities, perspectives and backgrounds have a seat at the table. We can tackle the challenges we face in achieving gender equity as we do in our innovative culture: by collectively challenging the status quo.
Be an ally for change
We cannot sit idly by when a colleague or fellow student are being held back or marginalized because of their gender. Either consciously or unconsciously. As an open and welcoming community, I encourage all of us to stand together and be allies for one another, particularly men and our male identified leaders.
We must stand together no matter the personal risk or cost associated with standing up for what is right. The original women’s rights pioneers knew there would be risks in marching and defying the voice of oppression. We can do the same. No one should be denied the opportunity to flourish in what they love doing or feel limited in what they can achieve.
Limitations on one, puts limitations on us all.
I urge you to stand together, not only today, but every day. Because the issues of equity, diversity and inclusion are not isolated to a single day of recognition.