International Women’s Day on March 8 may have come and gone, but the celebrations and the fight for women’s rights continue every day all year long.
The Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women recognizes this, which is why the organization’s Ottawa chapter hosts meetings and workshops for women once a month at Clocktower Brew Pub in the Glebe. The goal is to develop the professional, business and leadership potential of women through education, advocacy, awareness and mentoring within a supportive network.
“We have a different theme at each meeting,” says BPW Ottawa secretary Stephanie Wilde. “Each meeting we have time for socializing, networking, we have dinner together and then we have a presenter. Sometimes it’s a speaker on a different topic and sometimes it’s a moderated discussion.”
Each workshop focuses on topics surrounding women’s empowerment and feminist ideals but also on personal development and things that everyone, not just women, need help with. This includes managing stress, finances and mental health. This month the focus is #digitalfeminism and it takes place on Thursday, March 15 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Meaghan Haldenby, a second-year journalism and human rights honours student at Carleton University is the presenter on #digitalfeminism. She will be discussing the important role of the digital world as a useful platform for feminist activism, but also highlight the challenges the internet poses to modern feminism.
“It’s such a double-edged sword because on the one hand the digital world really allows women to connect and to not feel so isolated,” says Wilde, “but it absolutely does open them up to the opinions of everyone. And it’s not limited to the people they would meet face to face otherwise.”
“That can be very scary but it is to an extent balanced by that larger support network that’s out there and it’s definitely increased the dialogue and access to support services.”
Current digital campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp are examples of how modern feminism brought attention to serious issues like sexual harassment and violence against women, using the internet to make positive changes and give a voice to women who have been silenced for too long.
“It means that we really need to support each other all that much more and be there for one another as humans, not just as women,” says Wilde. “If somebody has a story to tell that’s their story and they need to be allowed to tell it and have that space to voice themselves.”
Those campaigns and the impacts they’ve created will be a major topic of discussion at tomorrow’s #digitalfeminism meeting.
For those interested in attending tomorrow night, the event is free for both members and guests and takes place at Clocktower Brew Pub Glebe. Guests are welcome to attend two of these BPW Ottawa meetings before committing to membership.
A substantial portion of all BPW Ottawa membership fees go towards the provincial, national and international Business and Professional Women’s Foundations to help fund the larger scale advocacy work that BPW Ottawa is a part of such as advocacy for pay equity and inquiries into missing and murdered Indigenous women.