Women's College Hospital - Health Care for Women, Revolutionized

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Women Leading Change

from the March 21, 2011 issue of Connect

Women Leading Change

In the past century, Women’s College Hospital has been led by women who have made countless breakthroughs in women’s health – including our deep commitment to ending violence against women through programs dedicated to treatment, follow-up, outreach and awareness.

This year, over 200 people joined Women’s College Hospital to honour International Women’s Day by celebrating women leading change in our local and global communities – while raising awareness on our efforts to continue to work for women’s equality, justice and peace.

Marilyn Emery, president and CEO of Women’s College Hospital, welcomed the crowd by sharing our purpose for the evening: “Our goal is to inspire you to act, to become leaders of change, so that women and girls can live safely and free from violence, everywhere and anywhere in the world.”

The highlight of the evening was a screening of This is My Witness – a documentary depicting war-torn Burma – where the stories of women as political prisoners and victims of sexual violence have become all too common. The film focused on two Burmese women who courageously traveled to New York to speak out against their aggressors by participating in the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. Guests were deeply moved and inspired by the heroic stories of these women who persevered through violence on the path to justice.

Julaine Eberhard, co-ordinator of the Tribunal featured in the film, explained why the situation in Burma matters locally to us in Toronto.

“We continue to share our lives with people who have come here from difficult situations,” she said. “Maybe they’re at your work, your child’s PTA meeting, or beside you on the bus. They all show extraordinary courage, and we should act for change on their behalf.”

The evening was also filled with stories and research from the following panelist speakers:

  • Janice Du Mont, scientist at Women’s College Research Institute
  • Pah Wah, a young Burmese woman living in Toronto who supported a testifier in the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma
  • Sheila Macdonald, provincial co-ordinator of the Ontario Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres
  • Johanna MacDonald, chair of Toronto Working Group, Canadian Centre for International Justice

As the event came to an end, guests reflected on the empowering remarks made by Angela Robertson, director of equity and community engagement at Women’s College Hospital.

“We cannot celebrate in the presence of injustice,” Robertson said. “Addressing the issue of violence against women is a collective responsibility – globally, and here at home. I hope you will take what you’ve heard this evening and go out in your own communities to become leaders of change.”

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