This International Women's Day 2017, we have so much to celebrate I hardly know where to begin. There have been some "Bold Actions", major accomplishments and changes among our women of all ages, races, religion and cultures in our network. I am overjoyed and you should be too.
I have been keeping copious notes, making observations and doing the count. Believe it or not, we are making steady progress, and we are succeeding in many areas of our chosen professions. I am also trying to draw comparisons with other cities nationally and internationally. From my conversations with friends around the world, anecdotally, it would seem per capita, we in Nova Scotia are making some significant steps forward in some instances. However, this can only be done with the appropriate research and statistic. What I do know is that we are creating our own opportunities and making changes. However, we cannot do it alone. We all need each other because we still have a long way to go to achieve real Gender plus (including women from all sectors).
We’re still lagging behind in certain sectors, especially government. We still do not have a deputy minister since 2005, following the departure of Dr. Mayann Francis, Former Lieutenant Governor from the executive position of Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission or senior executives for that matter. Hopefully, some serious attention will be given to this issue. We continue to need more women on boards, senior women in the private sectors.
I quote from Annette Verschuren on leadership “We need more and better leaders from diverse backgrounds, including women, aboriginals, the disabled. When you have more voices at the table you make better decisions.” I can’t wait to see those untapped potentials in government utilized.
My dream for next year is that we can all be featured online and share around the world among our members.
For so long many of us here in Nova Scotia have been "visible but yet invisible."
However, I must say that 2016 -2017, we have taken some Bold Steps and made Change happened in all aspect of our lives. These included social, economic, cultural and political achievements.
I have also noticed a shift in attitudes and thinking. Many of us have collaborated and shared the bond of woman/sisterhood including our non-binary friends, irrespective of our diverse cultures or backgrounds. We have shared some incredible moments together. We shared our knowledge, skills, expertise and secrets of success with one another. This was evident when we hosted a roundtable discussion for the Women Who Ran for Public Office. That event was so inspirational, empowering and exhilarating. It also demonstrated that “when women help women, we all succeed."
There are too many events to mention but notably, those hosted by the Black and Immigrant Women Network Association are as follows; We partnered with the International Women's Forum and Stewart McKelvie; Centre for Women in Business. Our members joined in the various events Honouring and celebrating Nova Scotia’s first Black Woman Senator, Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, our two new judges, Catherine Benton, the first Mi'kmaq provincial judge along with Ronda van der Hoek an African-Nova Scotian. Our very own Candace Thomas was also appointed to Queen's Counsel. The QC designation is awarded each year to members of the legal profession to recognize exceptional merit and outstanding contribution to the legal community.
Eleanor Beaton, joining Yale University Board of Directors for the Visiting Women Executive Education Program, as well as her and I, appearing on the front cover of the first All Women feature of the Atlantic Business Magazine, January - February 2017. Eleanor also recently hosted her "OWN the Room event" for professional women.
Among some of our other partners were Lana MacLean and Associates, the Immigrant Migrant Women's Association Halifax, Teens Now Talk, Y Immigrant Settlement Services, YWCA, Gail Adams, Owner and President of ConsulWorks, the Black Business Initiative, Halifax Public Libraries, Atlantic Museum of the Maritimes, the United African Canadian Women Association, celebrating their 20th Anniversary, hosting Saturday Schools for our students. These are some of the organizations celebrating with us throughout this year. We are also partnering with Halifax Regional Municipality on their Diverse Voices, a study which is a national initiative from Union of Municipalities to engage women in public office.
Many of us were privileged to participate in a number of truly phenomenal events during the African Heritage Month 2017. The events brought recognition for our youth and young women. AHM2017, and the African Nova Scotian Music Awards (ANSMA) 19th Annual event showcased our talented young people. These were proud moments as we witnessed the tremendous gifts among our youth have and not often seen. Their courage, fortitude, and strength in so many areas including the arts, film, history and music, all done while pursuing their academic careers. They gave us a glimpse of what our future would look like and we are in good hand.
Yesterday, we heard about the launch of the Viola Desmond Alphabet book published by the Delmore "Buddy" Daye Institute. These will now be in our schools and book shops. I can't wait to see how fun it will be to re-learn the alphabet with my grandchildren. Designed by children for children. Incredible!
We also had a number of academic successes in Ph.D. graduates, Dr. Barbara Hamilton in the Health Profession and Dr. Sharane Simon as a Geologist. There are also women joining non-traditional trades. We also celebrate the new immigrant women among us will add to our strength in the coming years.
There were business and personal triumphs for many of our members.
Natalie Frederick-Wilson and her husband David, owners of House of Auto in Bedford, won the Small Business of the Year Award by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
Congratulations to Sarah Fraser, Bank of Montreal, Commercial Bank Advisor, for winning their 2016, Annual Best of the Best Award.
Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, President & CEO at Digital Nova Scotia. TEDxKelowna 2017. WXN Top 100 in Canada 2015 & 2016. She continues to blaze a trail before our eyes.
Louise Adongo is among several Nova Scotians who will be attending the 2017 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference for two weeks.
Ariel Gough, who is currently working on Capitol Hill as the Communication Advisor on the Atlantic Desk. Ariel was instrumental in ensuring that Nova Scotian was part of the national celebration of Black History Month in Canada. Some of us received invitations to attend the event in Ottawa. It was a very proud moment for me because Nova Scotia was prominently featured.
In February, I was privileged to attend a roundtable with our new federal, Minister of Immigration, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, to give an account of the issues pertaining to black and immigrant women in Nova Scotia.
I would like to acknowledge ALL our women friends and colleagues who have achieve so much in spite of the challenges of race, sexism, ageism, disability, gender expression and who suffer denigration because they are women.
Today, as we celebrate another International Women's Day 2017, let us pause to reflect for a moment on our good fortune and remember those women and girls who are still struggling for the right to have their voices hear, to education, the right to define their own destiny and be free.
The challenges for women and girls to achieve economic grown and prosperity are still a long way off.
"The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. So around the world, International Women's Day provides an important opportunity for groundbreaking action that can truly drive greater change for women.
Use International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 as an important opportunity to:
Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
Declare bold actions you'll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world" United Nations
I will be listing the names of some of our members who have accomplished so much in the last year.
Quote: The world is very competitive, and if you think you are going to get it on a silver platter, wake up. In most of my career, I've had to find it. You have to demonstrate pro-active aggressiveness" Annette Verschuren, Nova Scotian and Guest Speaker for International Forum, IWD 2017 Breakfast.
Enjoy your celebrations throughout the day and beyond.
Have a Great Day.