It’s time to celebrate!

I was chatting with a young photographer recently. He’s excitedly awaiting the birth of his and his wife¹s first child. Full of enthusiasm and energy, he talked about her maternity leave and his parental leave opportunities.

I smiled. Then I celebrated back in 1978 when we had just won six weeks’ maternity leave. It was an exhilarating opportunity for those of us who had chosen to work outside the home AND raise kids.

The photographer looked at me like I’d grown a TV antenna out the top of my head. Six weeks! SIX WEEKS!!!

It gave me pause to wonder if today’s young men and women have given any thought to the quiet (and not so quiet) battles that have been waged to enable today’s remarkable freedoms. One year off. One year off to be with a new baby. Young women today (you’ll notice this if you’ve caught up with this millenium’s maternity styles) strut their stuff when they’re pregnant. None of this ‘tuck in the belly and cover it with a smock’ for this generation of new parents. I guess not. They don’t have to worry about being “let go” for being pregnant.

Just as my generation of young working women didn’t have to worry about being “let go” when we got married! Thank you, Mom, for fighting for that one!

As each generation celebrates its successes, it behooves us all to realize that we take the next step on the back of somebody before us who took his or her step on the back of the generation before them. And so it goes. It’s the original version of “pay it forward.”

This young photographer stood in wonder for a few minutes while I gave him a crash course in 1960’s-70’s feminism. Remember 1976? Think Pink? No? [Some of us do]

Well, Barrie is about to have its third annual celebration of International Women’s Day. There have been celebrations in the past but they have waxed and waned with a variety of organizers.

However, in 2004, Women in Networking Growing Stronger (WINGS) organized a solid celebration at the City Hall rotunda. Between 60 and 80 women met to talk and to celebrate. A modest trade show celebrated the achievements of business women in our community.

A year later, in 2005, 180 women (and a few fellas) gathered at the Event Centre to hear Donna Danyluk talk about women¹s issues in China. Twenty-three awards were given to women of significance in our community;. Sixteen women celebrated their businesses with trade show booths. Again WINGS was at the helm of making this happen.

And very shortly, next Monday, March 6, International Women’s Day will be celebrated by 300 women, with a couple dozen trade show tables and two guest speakers.

Nancy Groves, owner of Browns Catering, will transform the Event Centre’s awkward food prep area and serve a fabulous hot dinner.

It’s expected that many women will book tables of 8 to celebrate their businesses and their feminine associates. Twelve women will be honoured as “Diamonds in Our Community” for their work in a zodiac of achievements.

Media, WINGS, Expressions in Bloom, Trade Show Booths, and the energy and enthusiasm of 300 women (and a few men) will celebrate the journey on March 6. The Event Centre will buzz with the entrepreneurial achievements of women whose days are filled in ways our grandmothers could never have predicted.

Women booking seats for this event are encouraged to bring their daughters, to celebrate potential and opportunity and equality and energy of a special group of people. Women booking seats are encouraged to bring their mothers, the women whose footprints opened up opportunity for us.

It’s a chance for women all over this community to give their daughters what would have been impossible a generation ago… a room full of business women who are taking the opportunity to make and carry out her choice.

Generations of women celebrating achievement and goals… that’s the plan being carried out by the International Women’s Day organizing committee this year.

Business Tables will be adorned by centrepieces that depict the business. Business women are invited to offer a draw prize that befits their business. Businesses are encouraged to book an entire table for eight, hosting one of the nominated women who will be “awarded” during the evening.

Guest speakers for the evening will include an as-yet-unidentified representative for Black History onth. She will be followed by local lawyer Rose Adams. Rose is a Premier’s Award Winner as an alumnus of Georgian College. Rose will tell the story of her journey from foster child
to successful lawyer.

The evening will recognize the recipients of 12 Diamonds of Our Communities awards. Those attending will hear from each recipient as she is honoured for her contributions.

Come celebrate!

And Wings organizers? For your vision and energy in making this celebration a reality? Thanks!