Dr. Charmaine Dean at the microphone addressing attendees of 2018 International Women's Day Dinner.

Around the world, March 8 marks International Women’s Day, a global initiative celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Diana Parry addresses the 2018 crowd at the annual IWD dinner.On Friday, March 2, the University of Waterloo celebrated its 13th annual International Women’s Day Dinner, an event that hosted 320 guests to acknowledge the important role women have in society. Attendees included 2018 HeForShe STEM Scholarship recipients in addition to the HeForShe Writing Contest winners.

Waterloo’s Vice-President of Research, Charmaine Dean, addressed the crowd as keynote speaker and noted that, “It’s important to recognize how far women have come in obtaining equity and stature, and to recognize there’s still a long way to go.”

In the three years since Waterloo was invited to join the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, the number of girls and women in STEM outreach experiences and activities has increased to 35 per cent, exceeding the University’s original goal. Waterloo is on track to raise the overall female faculty representation to 30 per cent by 2020, with a current representation of 29 per cent. 

President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur stands beside VIP women at 2018 IWD dinner.President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur announced winners for the 2018 HeForShe writing contest during the annual dinner.  Selected submissions have been published in a special anthology presented by the Book Store and Writing Centre in support of the HeForShe 10x10x10 IMPACT framework.

For the first time, content was provided by not only Waterloo students, faculty, staff, and alumni, but also by high school students from the Waterloo Regional District School Board (WRDSB).  In total, 97 secondary students entered the HeForShe writing contest.   Participants were asked to consider how gender equity fits into a larger equity story, and explore where there are overlaps and connections between gender and race, ethnicity, age, ability, class, faith and/or sexuality.

“Our commitment to gender equity is not something we take lightly,” wrote President Hamdullahpur.  “This collection of poetry, fiction and non-fiction prose from students, faculty, staff and alumni strengthens our resolve to focus on equity in general and gender equity."

Front page of 2018 HeForShe Anthology Book.Each entry was reviewed by a panel of judges from both the University and WRDSB.

Category winners included:

UWaterloo Creative Non-Fiction Winner - Michelle Pressé (Office of Research) - “The Inherent Uncoolness of Girl”

WRDSB Creative Non-Fiction Winner - Kaleigh Wiens* - “Asexuality: Not Just for Flowers and Snowflakes”

UWaterloo Poetry Winner - Eleanor Sudak - “Today We Say Thailand”

WRDSB Poetry Winner - Lama Abdallah* - “Fluent in Excuses” (See YouTube video below.)

UWaterloo Fiction Winner - Sanjay Veerasammy - Untitled

WRDSB Fiction Winner - Rose Danen* - “The Broken Road”

*high school entrant

Along with the six winning entries, 35 other pieces were also selected for inclusion in the anthology.

University judges in the creative non-fiction category included Dr. Corey Johnson (Recreation & Leisure, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences), Cheryl Maksymyk (Indigenous Student Services Co-ordinator, St. Paul’s University College), Dr. Melanie Campbell (Director (GWPI), Department of Physics and School of Optometry).

WRDSB creative non-fiction judges included James Bond, Victoria Ford, and Nick Manning.

University judges in the poetry category included Dr. Sarah Tolmie (English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts), Tommy Mayberry (Instructional Developer, Centre of Teaching Excellence),  Dr. Sorouja Moll (Drama and Speech Communication, Faculty of Arts), and undergraduate student Beck Mallozzi (Glow Centre fo Sexual and Gender Diversity).

WRDSB poetry judges included Courtney Waterfall, Ted Martin, Dionne Maxwell, Kylie Penticost, and Nick Manning.

University judges in the fiction category included Dr. Marlee Spafford (Associate Dean of Science, Undergraduate Studies), undergraduate student Marisa Benjamin (Imprint), undergraduate student Emily West (Operations Co-ordinator, Games Institute), and undergraduate student Patricia Balbon (iGem).

WRDSB fiction judges included Lila Read, Stephanie Longeway, and Nick Manning.

Thank you as well to Panel Co-orindators including Clare Bermingham, Amy Greene, Valerie Walker and Dr. Nadine Fladd all from the Writing and Communication Centre.