Marlyn Husbands accepting her Viola Desmond Award. Photo: Mohamad Omar

Celebrating women

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By Susana Gómez Báez

International Women’s Day, annually celebrated on March 8, is a day to inspire and recognize women across the globe.

“We celebrate all the work that has been done and all the work that still has to be done,” said Melissa Palermo, the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) vice-president of education. “Women make 75 cents to a dollar every man makes. These are the realities women still face.”

The RSU is hosting the annual Herstory event on March 8, in com- memoration of International Women’s Day. Herstory will hear from well-known speakers around campus as well as a special performance from Climbing PoeTree, an influential duo from New York whose dual-voiced poems explore diverse themes.

Rodney Diverlus, the vice-president equity for the RSU said, “[The event] is about identity and issues that pertain to women.”

“It’s a day to remember that we don’t live in a perfectly equitable society.”

This problem, which is evident even in the Ryerson community, remains a battle that women must face.

Farheen Sani, a first-year chemical engineering student said that female student engineers still suffer from the prejudice in the program.

“People still make jokes about girl engineers,” said Sani. “[People say]: ‘why is there a girls washroom in the engineering build- ing?’ It’s so stupid.”

Jeff Perera, a third- year social work student and co- chairperson of the White Ribbon Campaign at Ryerson, says that this kind of behaviour is inexcusable. He believes that the fight for women’s right also depends on men.

“[Men] should be here to help,” he said. “We’re here to listen and support.”

Perera also co-founded the Viola Desmond Awards at Ryerson, a ceremony in which black women on campus are presented with awards for their advocacy work. The awards are named after Viola Desmond, an influential Canadian woman in history. The fourth- annual ceremony took place on Monday.

The Toronto community commemorated women with a march downtown last Saturday. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated in 1909 in the United States, in honour of a strike that had taken place a year earlier by a group of New York women.

Through the years, it became a reason for women to protest and fight against issues of equality women have historically faced. International Women’s Day remains a day of protest for women.

“Women need to show that they are strong and powerful,” said Jamie Citron, a first-year radio and television student.

She said International Women’s Day is an opportunity to remind men that women should not be treated differently.

“Unfortunately, it’s only a day,” Perera said. “But it’s important. I mean, on Valentine’s Day people complain, saying you should love your partner all year-round. But you need those kinds of days to re- member not to forget.”


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