Douglas College International Women’s Week

Images by Sophie Isbister
Images by Sophie Isbister

Campuses celebrate women and the community

By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor

Because the Douglas College Women’s Centre had so many reasons to celebrate, they decided to take a whole week instead of just a day.

Shila Avissa, a student staff member of the Women’s Centre, organized the five-day series of events, consisting of a poster display at both the New Westminster and David Lam campus, as well as two workshops and a self-defence class. The week of festivities culminated in a shoe sale and collection of information tables in the New Westminster concourse on March 8, the official date for International Women’s Day.

Avissa told The Other Press: “The goal for this event is to get everyone together, everyone from the campus and from the community…to make a solid statement that this is a celebration. [Women have] come so far and we need to fight still.”

The March 8 event in the concourse included tables from the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU), the DSU Pride Club, the Feminists for Gender Equality Club, the Building Energy and Resource Management program, and a representative of the Women’s Studies and Gender Relations Associate of Arts Degree program. The shoe sale featured several tables full of second hand footwear for both men and women, being sold for prices between $2 and $8.

Holly Perkins, a student assistant at the Women’s Centre, spoke highly about the success of the shoe sale: “It’s been going very well, it’s been steady the whole time. All day there’s been people coming through.” She added that a woman even exchanged the shoes she was wearing on her feet for a new pair from the sale.

Perkins, who attended the Thursday workshop on human trafficking and the sex trade industry, spoke about the awareness she gained from attending the event: “It could be someone you know or someone who looks like you who gets lured into the trade. It’s not just something that happens somewhere else,” she told us.

Jeanelle Davies, the Women’s Liaison for the DSU, was glad to see a large turnout at the March 8 concourse event. “Events like these are a really good way to start a conversation,” she said. “It’s a nice way at the very least to bring awareness and start a conversation about women’s issues around the world. We’ve had a lot of really good, meaningful conversations today about childcare,” she added, saying that childcare is one of the largest issues facing women.

Judy Darcy, New Democratic Party MLA candidate for New Westminster, was in attendance at the event and agreed with Davies on the childcare issue, stating that it’s a priority for the NDP: “It seems like there’s been a whole rebirth of activities around women’s issues [and] equality issues at Douglas College. I’m thrilled to come and be part of it and meet people.” Darcy spoke positively about Douglas College’s role as a hub for the community and for young people, and added that reinstating grants and addressing inequality was a top priority for party leader Adrian Dix.

The sprawling events and far reach of International Women’s Week touched students across the campus and created a legacy to help female students in the future. Avissa mentioned that all the funds from the shoe sale will be contributed to the single parent bursary, a fund offered by Douglas to single parent students, an initiative that has long been supported by the Women’s Centre.

If you’re interested in women’s issues, there are several ways to get involved on campus. The Pride Centre in the DSU is open to all LGBTQ and allies, the Women’s Centre is open to all self-identifying women, and there are also classes that you can take at Douglas College.