Encouraging confidence among women

SA hosted a panel discussion to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019

To commemorate International Women’s Day 2019, the Student Association (SA) hosted an event to facilitate a discussion between a panel of female entrepreneurs and students.

This event was organized by Manisha Punjabi, the women and trans representative at the SA, and Nureisse Khan, student representative on the George Brown College (GBC) board of governors.

Punjabi said that our society strains the issues surrounding sexism and inequality. So she wanted this event to not only address these problems but also highlight the success of women and celebrate the progress towards fair treatment of women.

Nureisse said she was motivated to co-host because she believes that issues facing women are not adequately addressed at the college and hoped that this event would be a step towards the right direction.

Maisha Turner, an interaction design and development student, was actively engaged in the conversation with the panel consisting of Ainka Jess, Tee Scott, Giselle Kovary, Avra Fainer and “Britta B”.

“Learn how to be yourself. If you’re growing up as a female who is opinionated or has dreams, the first thing people say is no and give all the reasons why you shouldn’t be like that,” said Turner.

The speakers all came from different industry backgrounds, which was Punjabi’s and Khan’s goal when co-ordinating their involvement.

Turner expressed how inspiring the panel members were and that there is something to be learned from all of their diverse stories.

Fainer is a presentation performance coach who noted that equality does not mean “measuring everybody by the same stick.”

She said people need to give everyone an equal opportunity based on strengths and weaknesses.

“You need to judge me on my performance levels, not whether or not I fit the ideal image of what a woman should look like in your mind,” said Fainer.

Fainer coaches people in a unique five-step method that helps to build confidence, aids organizations in restructuring their business models and assists with the success of their initiatives.

“They’re all very different types of women,” said Turner. “They all have different personalities and strategies, but with all of them, they found a way to be themselves instead of trying to diminish themselves and conform.”

Britta B is a spoken word performer who is actively engaged in the Toronto poetry community. She is also featured in the documentary film, The Journey, which is about the rejuvenation of Regent Park.

She mentioned how important it is for events and spaces to be more accessible for everyone and how acknowledging people’s perspectives is crucial to finding solutions.

This has been her passion and she conveys this message through spoken word, slam poetry and by simply talking to people.

“Poetry is a very magnificent way of bringing people together and getting them to think deeply and to reflect deeper on their contribution and their role and how society and reality exist as it is now,” she said.

Each panelist reflected on how society needs to step forward in hearing everyone’s voice without stigma. Whether it is from unconscious bias or blatant disbelief in women’s rights, the panel stressed that this perspective needs to change.

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Encouraging confidence among women