People and Places

‘Be bold for change’ — Ways to celebrate International Women’s Day & beyond

Break out your feminist agenda — March 8 is International Women’s Day, and Ottawa offers a number of ways to celebrate, while recognizing women’s achievements and acknowledging the challenges still faced.

This year, organizers are asking participants to “be bold for change,” and mobilize to promote women’s advancement and gender parity.

Here, a look at local groups – and events – doing just that:

Organizers of 2016's Ottawa Femmy Awards. Photo: Mike Gifford
Organizers of 2016’s Ottawa Femmy Awards. Photo: Mike Gifford

“Something magical happens when hundreds of feminists gather together and celebrate,” says Jackie Hansen, a women’s rights campaigner with Amnesty International and one of the organizers for Ottawa’s Femmy Awards.

The Femmy Awards celebrate those in the National Capital Region whose work on behalf of gender equality often goes unrecognized, and provides an evening of fun for feminists who spend most of their year challenging serious issues.

“There’s a wealth of feminist expertise in Ottawa – from grassroots community volunteers, to frontline service providers, to strong voices in the media, promoting gender equality and taking action every single day,” Hansen explains.

According to Hansen, gender inequality in Ottawa can take many forms, including street and online harassment, wage inequality, lack of representation in politics, discrimination in finding housing or accessing services, and violence.

The award ceremony happens March 8 at the Library and Archives Canada (395 Wellington St.). The free event includes food, performances, dancing — even on-site childcare. This year’s theme is “The Future is Feminist.”

Ottawa Rock Camp. Photo: Jessica Deeks
Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls. Photo: Jessica Deeks

Everyone knows girls run the world — and they rock it, too. Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls is hosting See It and Be It!, a rock n’ roll show for all ages at the Taggart Family YMCA-YWCA (180 Argyle Ave.) on March 10.

“Music can be a way to dispel gender stereotypes by demonstrating that girls – or any other under-represented population – can accomplish things that society may not expect them to,” says Tiffanie Tri, the vice-chair of Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls. “[By] playing a certain instrument or yelling into a mic, we can change perceptions and stereotypes, encourage participation, and increase diversity in music.”

Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls provides a three-day camp, year-round jam sessions, and other musical programming for self-identified girls between the ages of 13-17. It believes in replacing female competition with community by building women and girls up, and supporting and empowering their dreams.

“Our goal is to create a safe space for girls of all economic means and races so that they can build self-confidence. We are always looking for ways to reduce barriers and increase access to learning and playing music,” Tri says.


Looking for other ways to celebrate International Women’s Day?

Share a laugh at SHElarious, a fundraiser featuring music, improve, and stand-up comedy by female and non-binary performers at the Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave.) on March 8.

Network with female entrepreneurs, politicians and other inspiring women at the Women Leaders Networking Cocktail on March 8 at the Alt Hotel Ottawa (185 Slater St.).

Embrace your inner girly-girl as BLUSH hosts an evening of pampering with massages, make-up, cupcakes, and door prizes on March 11 in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park.