Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. We’re fortunate to be surrounded with and inspired by many strong women in our world. International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8! For over 100 years, this global holiday has honored and celebrated women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is also a day to raise awareness about women’s equality.
International Women's Day 2022 aims to ‘Break the Bias’. According to reports, during COVID-19, women experienced far greater levels of burnout than men in the workplace. Women in leadership positions experienced increased levels of stress and exhaustion compared to the men in the same positions due to going above and beyond to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Despite the biases and barriers that women face, they are still making waves as fierce leaders and are forces to be reckoned with. We’re always inspired by all the strong female leaders at UGM, so we’re sharing their invaluable wisdom with you. Get ready to learn and be inspired:
1. Continue to fight the good fight for equality and progress
“When I think about International Women’s Day…..I think it’s so wonderful how far so many women have come but I also think about how far so many women still have to go. Though there has been significant improvement over the years, this day isn’t just about celebrating the progress in equality for some privileged women. It brings up the many glaring issues that all of humankind still faces such as sexism, racism, poverty, injustice, and the other challenges so intricately entwined to equality for women.” – Karen Flanagan, Manager, Mission Ministries, Lydia Home
In 2022, having a day that is dedicated to women is as vital as ever because of the challenges that women continue to face. Despite the progress we have already made, globally, women still earn 24% less than men while working longer hours.
In 2019, in the DTES, where approximately 8,000 women live and work, incidents of violence are double the rates of the rest of the city. In a DTES women’s safety audit, 87% of women reported feeling unsafe and 48% of women experienced violence within the last two years. 57% of women said that they had felt forced to do something they were not comfortable with in order to survive and make ends meet.
International Women’s Day reminds us not only to celebrate all the progress we have made so far, but to look ahead to how far we still have to go. UGM’s Women & Families Centre helps the women in the Downtown Eastside community by giving them support to overcome their addiction and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
2. Recognize the valuable context that women bring
“Women bring a different perspective.” – Joanne Anderson, Manager, Volunteer Resources
Now more than ever, women are needed in leadership positions. Female leaders bring in a different set of skills, perspective, creativity, and a certain cultural nuance to the table that makes them effective decision makers and problem solvers in a company.
At UGM, we’re honoured to have many strong female leaders working together to end homelessness, poverty, and addiction. Companies that are committed to having gender and ethnic diversity in their leadership experience greater success.
Visit our Careers page to apply to UGM and get a chance to work with our talented female leaders!
3. Be the Leader You Wish You Had
“Those of us who identify as women, or are gender-diverse, have at different times in our careers, been led by folks who have weaponized our gender against us. We’ve been called shrill or aggressive, rather than passionate and assertive. We’ve been asked who watches our kids while we work, when our male colleagues haven’t. We know what it feels like to be spoken over rather than listened to..
Be the leader you wish you’d had: Advocate. Educate. Mentor. Create space. Recognize your privilege and intersections – and those of your coworkers.” – Nicole Mucci, Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Countless times women have been discriminated against solely based on their gender identity. One of the ways UGM combats this is by providing women low barrier employment and career experience through the Repair to Wear program. This UGM Social Enterprise program employs women and teaches them hand and machine sewing skills. Through the program, women get an opportunity to form a safe community while having room for personal and professional development.
It is so important that women support one another in all situations. One of the ways women can do this is to aspire to be in leadership positions and help out others in a way they wish they were helped.
4. Keep on pushing - A Woman’s Work is Never Done
“Women work twice as hard for half as much. We miss out… in the office and [at] home because we are behind the scenes making all the details work out, while receiving little praise or equal opportunities. This [is] disproportionately true for women of color.” – Candice Harper, Manager, Women & Families Outreach
Women are often seen as caregivers, and studies have shown that women shoulder the majority of responsibility in relationships, both in their careers and at home. This indicates that women are naturally expected to be there for other people – clients, co-workers, family members – and go above and beyond to make it happen.
Homelessness, poverty and addiction affect many women in the Downtown Eastside. UGM’s new Women & Families Centre supports women in need and helps them carry the load. UGM Women & Families Centre provides childcare, meals, housing, and recovery programs for women so that they are able to transform their lives and are better equipped to provide a bright future to their children.
We hope that you were inspired by these strong female leaders at UGM. Together, let's celebrate International Women’s Day and do our part in breaking the bias against women!
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