By AUSTIN WELLS
Despite the fact that several countries around the world, including Canada, feature a population with a female majority, perfect equality still doesn’t exist. International Women’s Day, which was on March 8, is a day that helps to spark the discussion of promoting equality. Schools around the world held events to celebrate the day, and Conestoga was one of them.
The event was held in the Venue Restaurant on Doon campus. It featured guest speaker Julia Biedermann, who is the executive dean of Conestoga’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, Trades and Apprenticeship and the Institute of Food Processing Technology. The event also featured a woman-themed Kahoot pop quiz game, live music, drinks and other activities for students to participate in.
Held by Conestoga Students Inc. in partnership with the Student Engagement department, the event was well attended and received, with Biedermann being especially popular and receiving a gift of Rupi Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers after her rousing speech on women, feminism and the future.
“To me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of what women have done and recognition of what we still have to do,” Biedermann said. “The concept of being a feminist is very misunderstood. It’s a bad word for many, and many women are afraid of being identified as a feminist because of the concept that it’s a bad thing, when in reality it’s not and that true feminism is a very good thing. It’s not about putting men down, it’s about campaigning for equality, equal rights, equal pay. Gender shouldn’t matter.”
When asked about how she felt about the future for women, Biedermann was hopeful but realistic.
“In Canada, I can see the wage gap being reduced. I think the demographics will result in women going into non-traditional careers because there’s more exposure to it. As an aging population, we can’t afford to only have 10-20 per cent of women in the engineering and trades fields,” she said.
After Biedermann’s speech, students were encouraged to participate in some of the games and activities, including a crafts station, a Kahoot pop quiz and a guessing game that resulted in a prize for the winner. Jennifer Durst, the leadership and development programmer for the Student Engagement department and planner of the event, was happy with how things turned out.
“Conestoga has been doing this for about five years, and this is my first time running it,” Durst said. “I’d like to thank the committee of students who helped us plan this event. Without them, it really would not have been possible or nearly as vibrant an event as it was. It was really encouraging to see everyone come out and support women and Women’s Day, and to see men coming out to support everything was really encouraging as well.”