Speakers help encourage women to be courageous

NANAIMO – International Women's Day event features women sharing their stories.

Women with the courage to speak out are being celebrated during an annual International Women’s Day event Sunday (March 5).

Ashwak Sirri, a member of Equal Voice, which organizes the event, said the goal is to not only inspire women, but also give them the tools they need to be courageous and speak out on issues that affect them.

Included in the event are five women with the courage to speak out, including Sonnet L’Abbe, a creative writing professor at Vancouver Island University, who writes about national identity, race, gender and language, and organized the Nanaimo Women’s March in January.

“For her to do that, it definitely takes courage,” Sirri said.

Also speaking at the event are Evangeline Clifton, an indigenous VIU student who will share her story of courage; Eva Manly, a multi- disciplinary artist who has combined her interest in video with justice issues; Anisa White, a court expert and policy analyst; and Diane Ross, a professional speaker and the author of The Elephant in the Office: Super-Simple Strategies for Difficult Conversations at Work.

“It’s all about sharing stories to empower other women,” Sirri said. “We want to give our audience the tools to know and to learn basically the tools to speak out and to be courageous.”

The event, which last year featured Nanaimo city manager Tracy Samra as its keynote speaker on the theme of diversity, continues to grow.

“It’s heartwarming to see that and to see men and women involved in it,” Sirri said.

Equal Voice is a non-partisan organization dedicated to electing women to all levels of political office in Canada. Sirri said the local chapter’s membership continues to grow.

The event takes place at the Grand Hotel, 1-3:30 p.m., and includes afternoon tea, music and the speakers. Tickets cost $35 and are available by calling the hotel at 250-758-3000 or e-mail Equal Voice at central.vanisland@equalvoice.ca.

International Women’s Day is observed worldwide on Wednesday (March 8).