On February 4, 2020, Humber’s International Development Institute (IDI) celebrated the 30th anniversary of International Development Week (IDW). IDW is celebrated annually by the Government of Canada, Canadian civil society organizations, Canadians and is a uniquely Canadian tradition. Events held across the country during IDW offer an opportunity to pause and acknowledge Canadian contributions to poverty reduction and international humanitarian assistance in the developing world. The theme for this year’s IDW was #GoForTheGoals. It refers to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that focuses our efforts on moving forward collaboratively and progressively toward a better world. Humber’s foundational IDW event revolved around the topic of gender equality.
The event was the result of collaboration between Humber’s IDI and both the Bhutan Canada Foundation and World Vision. The theme – “Gender Equality through Disruption: Innovation as a Way Forward” – brought a diverse group of stakeholders together to learn, deliberate and ideate on a range of topics including maternal, newborn, and child health; sexual, reproduction health rights including domestic violence; gender and governance; and innovation, art, and storytelling.
The IDI has run similar events during International Development Week for many years. The approach this year, particularly with respect to community engagement and collaboration, brought new stakeholders to campus while providing a unique engagement opportunity for Humber faculty, staff and students. Event details were carried out by Humber International Development students. The students’ efforts were organized through their Leadership Volunteer Committee. They planned and organized all aspects of the event. The practical skills in both public engagement and stakeholder engagement activities in the sector were invaluable.
Shakila Zareen kept the participants in rapt attention during her presentation. She is a 23-year-old woman from Afghanistan who was subjected to forced child marriage, assault and an attempted murder at the hands of her husband. Zareen, who is now a resident in Canada, spoke passionately and eloquently on behalf of gender equality, women’s rights and the ending of forced subjugation around the world.
Kent Schroeder, the Executive Director of the Bhutan-Canada Foundation, presented on the country’s National Happiness Index and the interplay between overall outcomes and perceptions, and the significant differences by gender in those outcomes.
“The event was a great opportunity for an enriching discussion around key topics within gender equality. It brought together students, staff, development practitioners, and the broader community to discuss and reflect on what gender equality looks like in practice both locally and globally,” said Clarisse Estebar, Financial and Program Officer in Humber’s IDI.