Celebrating pioneering women who made strides toward gender equality while keeping an eye on the hurdles that remain was a theme of community events around the globe Tuesday, and Kelowna was no different.
Several gatherings were organized by student and community groups across the city to mark International Women’s Day in a variety of ways.
“We decided to draw attention to human rights issues across the world that disproportionately affect women,” explained Chelsea Grisch, executive chairperson of the Okanagan College Students Union, at the OC event.
“For example, in Saudi Arabia, women still can’t drive and that’s something a lot of people don’t know.”
The student union created a trivia game that taught about pioneering women who risked life and limb, tearing down barriers abroad.
Among those being focused on in that game were Malala Yousafzai.
As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her.
On Oct. 9, 2012, when she was 15, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school.
They also talked about Benazir Bhutto. She inherited leadership of the PPP after a military coup overthrew her father’s government and won election in 1988, becoming the first female prime minister of a Muslim nation.
These women may be remembered as some of the most cobntroversia figures in world history, but they were still less contentious than bringing the f-word out, said Grisch, who acknowledged that “feminism” is a touchy subject these days.
“A lot of people don’t want to align themselves with first world, third wave politics, which tends to be about identity politics and is more radical in nature,” she said.
“So this is about basic fundamentals…we wanted to find commonality with all students because the idea of feminism can be quite divisive. Nobody can object to us talking about Malala…advocating for women’s education, or feminist icons. “
Grisch also pointed out that in a global economy we can all do our part to support regimes who support women by spending wisely.
Added student Danielle Nault: “Feminism is equality of the sexes. What we really need to focus on in this country is domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“We have a really serious problem when one in every three women are affected by this.”
Olivia Hoffer, instructor
“Feminism means that we need to acknowledge that men and women are equal in value and that a lot of challenges and problems women face are a result of gender inequality. Violence against women, for example, is about gender equality and not about women deserving it.
“In Canada, we’re not faring as well as people think. The years that Harper was in power, the UN dropped Canada from being in the Top 10 for women’s equality to down in the 30s. There are a lot of places that are dpoing a better job than we are and we need to address that. “
Caroline Hansen, student.
“I think there is a lot of talk but no action being taken,e specially to help women with sexual assault and rape. There aren’t the supports or services.
“Also governments will slash basic social services we desperately need. And the lone parent family in Canada is usually led by a woman with children, and these families are living in abject poverty, with $1.25 income a day. There, Canada needs to really get it together. It’s ridiculous we have anybody living like that.”
“I think we’re doing pretty good when you compare us to the world in general, but I think there’s still some discrimination for when you’re a woman. I also think there are times when we take it too far.
“I think the man does have a special place in relationships and sometimes we should just relax, and not say ‘you don’t have to do that, I can do that.’
“Just because they’re offering to do things for us doesn’t mean they’re undermining us. Sometimes we take things a little too far. “