Women perform 66 per cent of the world’s work, receive 11 per cent of the world’s income, and own 1 per cent of the world’s land.
It was with that sobering statistic put forth by Kim Crosby, feminist advocate and keynote speaker that the 2013 Leadership Summit for generic viagra with echeck Women kicked off in MDCL on McMaster’s campus on the rainy morning of Saturday, Oct. 19.
This was the third year of the conference, which has grown tremendously in size since its modest 2011 inauguration in a simple classroom setting. This year, the conference featured two keynote speakers, a panel discussion, two rounds of workshops, a luncheon and a pledge-sharing period.
As the first speaker, Kim Crosby set a thoughtful and empowering tone for the rest of the day’s proceedings. She was particularly interested in recognizing the many forms of leadership that women are involved in, and lamented our lack of vocabulary and respect for the quiet, nurturing forms of female leadership.
“Our language is so inherently biased against women that there aren’t a lot of words to talk about the nuances about the ways that we build communities [as leaders],” she said.
“When I think about what women’s leadership looks like, recognizing [and looking past oppressive barriers shows that women] are being leaders all over the place,” she continued. “In every landmass, women are actually doing an enormous amount of work to take care of themselves, their communities, and their families. The fact that they’re not being affirmed or valued or recognized is part what I’m asking us to think about today.”
Most importantly, Crosby implored the audience to think about how “some of the work we need to do isn’t just about creating more space for women’s leadership, but actually acknowledging it where it’s already happening.”
Crosby talked for nearly an hour about colonization, being an ally, her practice of feminism, and the importance of women working together in their communities to create change.
The workshops in the second half of the day addressed a wide variety of topics, from gender-based violence in the workplace, to women and political activism, to “dudes and feminism” and beyond. Eleven unique workshops were offered, of which participants were invited to attend two.
All of the workshops were lead by notable women – and men – in their field. Steph Guthrie, founder of Women in Toronto Politics and recent TEDxToronto speaker, lead a session on thoughtfully curating and being aware of one’s online presence. Hamilton Spectator columnists Evelyn Myrie and Susan Clairmont talked to their workshop group about women’s voices in the media. Sandy Shaw, Director of Corporate Responsibility for First Ontario Credit Union spoke about female mentorship and networking.
Such themes of self-assertion and working together were reiterated by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s concluding keynote address. Wynne spoke primarily about empowering women, as well as about Ontario’s skilled trades issues and problems sustaining the Canadian Pension Plan.
“We need to start to shift our notion of who are our leaders,” she said. “That’s why this discussion is important. So I’m going to keep doing my part to challenge the perceptions that undermine women and [promote] ideals of fairness and equality because I don’t want young women to shy away from leadership roles. I want them to embrace them.”
Wynne talked for approximately 20 minutes and then entertained a series of critical questions. Wynne received an especially enthusiastic round of applause for her comments on the old women’s issue of prioritizing children versus careers.
“My resume’s got a big gap in it. But it wasn’t a gap, it was when I was learning the most important lessons of my life because I was raising my three kids,” she said to cheers from the crowd. “I wouldn’t be who I am without that experience and so I think it’s really important that … we value childrearing and family involvement – whether it’s men or women – as we evaluate people’s capacity to do politics.”
Despite a talk heavy on politics and low on personality, it was with statements such as this that Wynne resonated with the crowd.
While it’s hard to know what tangible actions and personal inspiration will stem from such an event, the Summit certainly addressed its mandate of redefining, redistributing and revolutionizing female leadership.
Sponsorship and Logistics Coordinator, and MSU Vice-President (Administration) Anna D'Angela is confident about the positive impact the day had on the present women's lives.
"I hope that this conference allowed women to reflect on how they are leaders now (because I believe in some way, shape or form we are all leaders) while providing them an opportunity to learn and grow," she said. "I hope it gives them the confidence to reach their full potential and make a positive change for themselves and their community."
Aelya Salman / The Silhouette
McMaster frequently plays host to a number of incredibly talented speakers, and this was shown on March 8 when Human Rights and Equity Services welcomed the multi-hyphenated activist speaker Kim Crosby to McMaster, in what proved to be several hours of engaging with some difficult but crucial topics.
Crosby refers to herself as a “daughter of the diaspora.” Her multi-hyphenated identity comes not only from her heritage – she is Arawak, West African, Indian, and Dutch – but also from her professional titles as an artist, activist, consultant, facilitator, and educator.
Crosby facilitated a workshop on anti-racism and later delivered a keynote address in Convocation Hall, summarizing the workshop content and discussing the power of women.
The topics covered included rape, masculinity, the dismantling of debilitating institutions, and solidarity amongst the marginalized. She reminded the audience of the importance of undoing internalized behaviours that arise from years of problematic ideologies.
Crosby's aim was to draw attention to the various ways that oppression can arise, and how multiple oppressions come together to create a more inclusive picture of any one individual.
A key topic touched on during the workshop was the dismissal of activist efforts within certain spaces, particularly academic spheres. The university, Crosby rightfully pointed out, is an institution that often operates on us without our consent.
She was quick to remind her audience, however, that change is more than possible.
In her own words, these systems, including schools and financial institutions, for example, were created, but as members of these systems have the ability to un-create them. She illustrated this by explaining, for instance, that we undo capitalism every day in the gestures we perform for others out of good will.
“You don't give your friend a bill, asking them to pay for what you did for them, do you?” Crosby asked her chuckling audience.
The breadth of topics and their various nuances cannot possibly be covered in one sitting, and that was most visible when Crosby seemed to run out of breath or looked as if she had more to say but couldn’t due to time constraints.
While this workshop along with others like it are not the be-all-end-all of activist discourses, they provide the necessary catalyst for real changes to occur on campuses nation-wide, including and especially McMaster.
After all, difference begins with education and what better place to begin our education than on campus?