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City of Brantford renews commitment to International Women’s Day

City of BrantfordCity of Brantford renews commitment to International Women’s Day

City of Brantford councillors unanimously agreed to once again recognize Friday, March 8, 2024 as “International Women’s Day” and renewed its commitment to “securing the rights and unleashing the full potential of women while addressing social, economic, and political barriers they encounter,” during their regular council meeting on Tuesday, February 27, 2024.

For the 113th International Women’s Day, the City is recognizing the day’s 2024 theme of “Inspire Inclusion,” which focuses on “increasing awareness, empowering women from diverse backgrounds, and fostering discussions on inclusivity in all aspects of life.”

As part of the resolution, City staff will collaborate with Councillors Rose Sicoli, Mandy Samwell and Linda Hunt to develop the 2024 International Women’s Day Public Awareness campaign. A maximum of $10,000 for the campaign will be funded from the Council Priorities Reserve.

A flag raising will be held in Harmony Square, and City Hall will be lit up in purple on March 8, 2024.

During the meeting Shannon McMannis, founder of Ladies Who Lead, and Vanessa Hammond, an executive team member, spoke as delegations to help kick off the International Women’s Day campaign.

McMannis shared how Ladies Who Lead was established in 2019 and how it has committed to breaking down barriers and celebrating women.

“Ladies Who Lead is a not-for-profit organization, and the intent was to provide information, connection and support to women in their professions in the Brantford-Brant and Six Nations of the Grand River area. Our team saw a need in the community to promote women in a wide range of professions that differed from more transactional networking groups,” she said. “…We are more about building each other up and not tearing each other down. It is through these valuable connections that Ladies Who Lead fosters an environment of collaboration over competition. …Our commitment is that we strive for diversity, equity and inclusion. We commit to using these practices in our membership, our community, and the work we do within our community. Join us in embracing diversity, equity and inclusion for every member of Ladies Who Lead and the greater community.”

Councillor Hunt, then expressed her public recognition for McMannis and her work.

“Shannon really is the founder of Ladies Who Lead and has been on this path to empower women long before she founded the group, so I just wanted to give her some public recognition for that,” said Hunt. “I too am very, very committed to this year’s theme of “Inspire inclusion,” which from an International Women’s Day perspective, does have different meanings than what “inspire inclusion” means for persons with disabilities, and I’m glad to see the intersection of just inclusion for everyone, everywhere. I’m very pleased to support this resolution.”

Councillor Sicoli also took the opportunity to speak on the resolution during the meeting, and explained why it was so important to her and other women.

“You may be asking yourself, ‘why is a resolution like this so important? Why do we have to talk about this year after year?’” she said. “It’s because in 2018, 52 per cent of women said they were subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace and 28 per cent of women said that they had been subjected to non-consensual sexual touching in the workplace; I am one of those women. Because in Canada, only five per cent of employees in STEM fields are women who work on site.”

She then went on to quote a speech about the societal expectations of women by Caylee Cresta on TikTok. https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMMLM8yLp/

“‘Because being a woman means that we have to ‘age gracefully,’ but never let ourselves go. Society expects us to work like we have no children, but parent like we have no jobs,’” Sicoli read. “‘The stay-at-home mother is considered ‘unfulfilled’ but the working mother is ‘selfish,’ all the while having no children means you’re ‘incomplete.’ We are expected to chase our careers but never at the expense of our families. ..Should I continue?’ Does that sound exhausting to you? Because it is. The pressures of being a woman in today’s society feels more and more like a lose-lose situation.”

She then noted she was looking forward to the rest of the council supporting the resolution.

“For this International Women’s Day, I encourage all other women out there listening to my spiel right now, to say ‘to hell with societal norms and expectations, here I am’” she said. “I look forward to everybody’s support tonight.”

The International Women’s Day resolution was then unanimously passed.

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