SHEET HARBOUR – Since 1911, people have gathered internationally to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 marks the call to accelerate gender parity. This year, the event will be marked virtually by LEA Place Women’s Resource Centre in Sheet Harbour on March 7.
The 2021 theme of the worldwide event is “Choose to Challenge.” LEA Place Executive Director Myrene Keating-Owen told The Journal via email: “A challenged world is an alert world … and from challenge comes change. So, let's all #ChooseToChallenge.”
The local IWD event will be shared on Zoom on March 7, at 1 p.m. Guest speaker, Sandra (Boutilier) Fyfe, Anglican Bishop of Nova Scotia and P.E.I., will speak on the power of women. Those wishing to join the IWD Zoom event are invited to call LEA Place to register at (902) 885-2668.
LEA Place will be partnering with businesses in the area to offer free coffee to women in honour of IWD.
There was a lot for the centre’s staff to take into consideration when organizing this year’s event.
Keating-Owen questioned whether they could even host an event with so many unknowns. “As the event is planned months ahead of time – and with the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions – we had to be realistic in our planning to organize an event. It had to be in-line with Public Health’s gathering limits – and could easily be changed if other restrictions came down by province,” she said. “We knew the event would not be a face-to-face event – but via Zoom – so we had to ensure we had the technology in place at the Centre to accommodate people joining in. Will people have their own technology and know how to use Zoom?”
IWD is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women's achievements and to raise awareness about women's equality. “This day is used to lobby for accelerated gender parity, influencing behavior and smashing stereotypes,” said Keating-Owen. “The day is marked by encouraging challenging bias, reinforcing commitment and launching initiatives.”
Purple, green and white are the designated colours representing IWD. “Purple signifies justice and dignity and green symbolizes hope,” said Keating-Owen. “White represents purity – although a controversial concept. The colours originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the U.K. in 1908.”
LEA Place Women’s Resource Centre has been celebrating IWD since its founding in 1983.
Keating-Owen described the early days when the organization hosted potlucks where women would bring dishes representing many parts of the world. Women who had travelled abroad were invited to speak on their work and experiences.
“A few years we had a panel of women – ages spanning from teens to women in their 80s. We would ask the same questions to each of the women and teens which created a ‘Then and Now’ on issues which continue to be a struggle for women throughout the centuries,” shared Keating-Owen.
Keating-Owen reminded the community: “LEA Place Women’s Resource Centre is here and open to support women. We are pleased to continue welcoming individual women to our Centre by drop-in services within public health restrictions and by appointment.” Due to public health gathering limits LEA Place is now connecting in different and new ways – including video appointments, if requested or required – and video events.
“We want women to know we are here for them and can connect with us via phone (902) 885-2668, text (902) 885-5286 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org,” explained Keating-Owen. “Our Centre is open regular hours Monday to Friday, from 9 to 4:30 p.m. If you require a different time to meet – please call the Centre to prearrange a time that works.”
The Centre is limited to face-to-face attendance but for the IWD event they are able to accommodate up to five, in-person, who register. LEA Place does not charge for the event but for those who choose to give a free will offering – it goes towards LEA Place’s bursary and/or programming.
Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal