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Women’s College Hospital celebrates International Women’s Day

March 10, 2014

On Friday, March 7, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) celebrated International Women’s Day with two events for staff, physicians, volunteers and patients.

International Women’s Day holds a special importance for WCH and provides everyone with an opportunity to reflect on the progress of the women’s movement so far.

“International Women’s Day is a time to acknowledge the past struggles of women and celebrate their economic, political and social achievements, but also to reflect on the work that still needs to be done,” said Marilyn Emery, WCH president and CEO. “The reality is, gender equality is still out of reach in many parts of the world.”

The morning event kicked off with a fun celebration and a sweet treat. Staff members and the senior team distributed cupcakes to staff and patients in the lobby. Attendees viewed a presentation of archival pictures of the hospital’s pioneers, reflecting on the organization’s roots and its longstanding dedication to women’s health.

The main event entitled “In the face of adversity: the courage of women,” featured presentations on the experiences of refugee women and their stories of sacrifice, resilience and courage.

Speakers included Dr. Meb Rashid, medical director of the WCH Crossroads Refugee Clinic; Gloria Nafziger, president of the board of directors at Sojourn House, Toronto’s refugee shelter; and Michele Landsberg, renowned Canadian journalist and WCH board member.

Presenters spoke to the courage of refugee women despite the obstacles, poverty and stigmatization that many of them often face.

“I see patients who have endured horrific trauma and oppression, and yet they arrive in Canada with a sense of optimism and a desire to contribute to their community,” said Dr. Rashid. “It really is a tribute to human resilience.”

Nearly 496 million women worldwide cannot read or write a simple sentence, and in many countries women never have the chance to go to school, Emery told the crowd.

“Around the world, women continue to have fewer rights, lower education and health status, less income and less access to resources than men,” said Emery. “Today, I challenge each of us to be an advocate for change in our workplaces, communities and cities because there is so much more we need to do.”

To learn more about International Women’s Day, click here.

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