Panel at the Wellness Symposium

International Women's Day

Taniya Sheikh

Today, people worldwide celebrate International Women'sDay to mark the various achievements women have made in the social, economic, cultural and political aspects in our society. That being said the original goal of celebrating International Women’s Day is to achieve equality.

It started with women protesting against working conditions in 1909 to less than 5 months ago when the #metoo movement came into light. So every year, there’s a new achievement to celebrate for.

With Trudeau introducing paternity leave and pay equity onto the new legislative bill, we are making progress in society; as women, our voices are being heard.

At a micro level, on our campus at Western and the London Community, there are several clubs and non-profit organization that run yearlong to empower women and provide us with a platform where we can address issues that we face on a day-to-day basis.

Women’s Issues Network
At Western, this club creates a platform for women on campus to talk about some of the issues that we face as students on campus. They have several events that go on during the year that provide women with resources that help and empower women.

Although they don’t have a general members committee, most of their events have free admission but if you’re very keen on getting involved, positions will open up in September for the 3 committees in the club.

Speaking with the co-coordinator, Madeline Vrolyk, who spoke about how wellness is a key part of our lives and about pay equity which is being integrated into our society.

They will be having an event today at The Wave from 6-9pm called "U.S. She" which will have several keynote speakers to share their experiences. It’s a free networking event for everyone at Western and will have food as well.

Her Campus Western

A unique platform for women who are a part of the Western community to voice out their opinion. They are a new media brand for women by women. The website comprises of all kinds of topics from health to jobs to help women in various aspects of life. They are also proud of their sex positive stories and articles on topics that are often considered taboo, Ella Purtill, the President of the club says that by openly talking about sex and sexuality, they try to destigmatize the current notion in society and get a conversation started.

It’s important for women to talk and share their stories because more often than not, we all might be facing the same issue and can stand together to put up a fight against it. 

To share your story or get involved with Her Campus, you can visit their page on Facebook @HercampusWestern or go onto their website http://www.hercampus.com/school/western.

Days for Girls

A non-profit organization in the North London Region that aims to alleviate poverty and empower women by creating and distributing hygienic and reusable menstrual kits for girls who cannot afford it.

There are girls who miss weeks of school because they don’t have access to tampons or pads and inability to effectively handle their period. A natural bodily function that all women go through shouldn’t cost a girl her right to education.

Although this organization isn’t a part of Western, Kavisha Patel and Heather Hughes; the co-founders of the chapter are students at Western University. With Western being a welcoming place that is constantly growing, they are able to spread the message and connect with people who are able to help the organization grown and gain exposure.

While conversing with Patel, she mentions her personal motivation towards this organization and said,

I am a feminist. Viola Davis recently said in her Women’s March 2018 speech that when she raises her hand, she is aware of the women who are still in silence. That is essentially my philosophy. It is important to note that while, here in the Western world, progression of gender parity may be rapid, there are other parts of the world where women are still silenced and do not have a voice. This silencing, do not get me wrong, has a lot to do with the Western world’s colonization practices and brutal methods to oppress these countries. Therefore, these countries have not been able to naturally follow their historical trajectories and their own progression of gender parity as effectively.  I am trying to foster a sort of reconciliation by giving them a voice that, in a way, we took. Girls and women are so powerful, and we were told for so long that we were not. Every time I think of that it angers me. To think that institutional structures and social practices actually convinced us we are not enough. The fight isn’t over, and I would hate myself if I was not a part of that fight. I am doing this to promote education, empowerment, and a helping hand to those girls who may still be bound by the ideas of “not enough”.”

Days for Girls recently held their annual henna night at Saugeen Maitland Hall and are hoping to have collaborative events coming up with other clubs at Western.
 

Women’s Wellness Symposium

This year Her campus, Women’s Issue Network in collaboration with other clubs came together to host a Women’s Wellness Symposium on March, 5th 2018 at the Mustang Lounge.

This event was a free event for everyone on campus and included free massages and some giveaways.

This event had a panel of speakers who came from around London to provide women of Western tips and advice on being healthy during the midterm season and its importance.

The panel was hosted by Virgin radio’s morning host Rachel Ettinger who has her own social enterprise called HereforHer that creates a platform for women to talk about health and wellness. She also has a clothing line which features cute sweatshirts. She is a huge advocate on openly talking about mental health and doing what makes us happy as women. She encourages women to work together and support each other so we can all reach a common goal.

While speaking with her she made an interesting point about feminine hygiene products. She questions the fact that toilet paper is readily available at every public washroom but if we need tampons or pads, we have to be able to pay for them.

To get involved with Hereforher, you can get in touch with Racheal or follow the Instagram page: @rachettinger  @shophereforher 

Gillian Mandich was one of the panelist who is currently a PHD candidate at Western’s Health Science Faculty and researches happiness and how it affects us. She believes that coming together as women and by supporting each other, we can create the best life for each other. By celebrating women we are able to give a helping hand and be a good friend which in turn makes us feel good because we were able to help.

You can get in touch with Gillian and get tips on living a healthy lifestyle by following her on social media platforms at @gillianmandich.

A panelist who spoke about food and the impact it has on as women was Jillian Walsh, a registered dietitian who works with change or change and deals with people who have an eating disorder. She is all about loving the food we eat and feeling good about it. She is completely against having a strict diet regime, skipping meals or feeling guilty for eating and exercising simply to burn calories. She also addressed the stigma in society about women’s body, beauty expectations and how people have the authority to openly comment on what people should or shouldn’t eat, which is not okay.

The reason stigma around mental health exists is due to the fact that we are not able to openly talk about it and Walsh says that we have to give our self the permission to be okay with eating what we want and allowing ourselves to enjoy the food. As students we often have to deal with unrealistic deadlines on assignments and the best way to deal with that kind of stress is to let ourselves take the time to eat and engage in activities that make our bodies feel good so we are able to be as productive as possible with our time.

You can get in touch with Jillian by following her on Instagram @changecreateachange and on Twitter @JillianWalshRD.

Finding a balance is key and Emma Jack goes by that motto. She is an orthopedic in London but also helps the Women’s hockey team so she spends most of her time travelling. Emma says that schedules can be hectic but its important to make time on our schedule to include some kind of physical activity because mental health and physical health go hand in hand, which is commonly underestimated.

Most of the time, by making about 15-30 mins to either walk or just jog can help us take in a lot more information and retaining it.

You can learn how to keep a balanced lifestyle by following Emma on twitter @ @pressplayphysio.

 

With recent events, there has been an active discussion about women and their role in society and although there is progress being made, we are not there yet. This Women’s Day, take the opportunity to put yourself first by taking care of yourself mentally and physically and reach out to the resources that are available to us at Western and the London community.