The scourge of gender inequality requires action from all of us
Recent events in Iran and elsewhere demonstrate that the time is now
Each October is Women’s History Month. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding women and girls who have made important contributions to our country while helping build a more inclusive Canada. In a few days, it will be the International Day of the Girl Child – a day that’s dedicated to celebrating the voices and power of girls, championing their rights worldwide, and reflecting on the challenges they continue to face because of their gender.
Supporting women and girls in their fight for equality is a matter of great importance to me – and was long before I became the first woman President and CEO of Humber College.
Right now, it’s hard to not connect historical injustices that women have faced with the current experiences of so many women and girls around the world and here in Canada. Over the past few weeks, I have thought a lot about the protests that are underway in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, the young woman died while in the custody of the country’s morality police.
In an all-employee message on September 23, I condemned Mahsa’s arrest and death and wrote about how it was a painful reminder that we still have much work to do to advance gender equality. The media continues to report on sympathetic protests occurring across the globe. It is important to note that this is a much bigger issue about woman’s rights and equality including, but not limited to, what to wear and how to wear it, access to education and all fundamental human rights.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. There was a recent attack on a learning centre in Kabul that left more than 50 students dead, most of whom were young women. Today, there was news of an attack at a pre-school in Thailand that left dozens dead, including children, and has left the world shocked at the cruelty that can exist in our world.
In Canada we have our own history of oppression and violence that we must come to terms with and address. We just observed Orange Shirt Day which encourages Canadians to honour the survivors of residential schools while reflecting on the loss of children and the acts of cultural genocide that attempted to break the spirit and legacies of Indigenous families and communities. As well, hundreds of vigils were held across the country on October 4 to mark the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
We know that many of you have been personally impacted by all of these events and ongoing struggles. Students in need of mental health counselling can contact the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre for support. You can also connect with the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion.
If you would like to access services outside of Humber, below is a list of mental health services that support Indigenous and Racialized communities:
- GoodToTalk (1.866.925.5454) is a 24-hour mental health support for Post-Secondary Students in Ontario.
- Keep.meSAFE offers linguistically and culturally diverse mental health support for Humber International Students
- Therapy Assist Online
- Across Boundaries
- Hope for Wellness Help Line
- Distress Centre Peel: 905.278.7208
Staff may also access Employee Assistance Plan services.
It is evident that much work still needs to be done to advance gender equality around the world and here in Canada. Ending gender inequality in all its forms – both domestically and internationally – will require all our efforts. As an institution of higher learning, we have one of the most important roles to play. I know the Humber community is engaged and is helping us move closer to this goal.
It is my privilege to work alongside so many amazing women at Humber. They are leaders, they are mentors, they are supportive peers and outstanding examples for our students of what is possible.
We stand in solidarity with students, faculty and staff at Humber and the communities we serve. We will continue to lead courageously by always opposing and condemning hate in all forms and building on the strength of our values and the diversity of the Humber community.
Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan
President, CEO, Humber I.T.A.L