DESCRIBE THE EVENT
It's the YWCA's biggest fundraiser, designed to recognize and celebrate the progress we've made toward gender equity. The org names six women who have made a difference in the area and shows a two-minute film about each, and then we honourees speak briefly.
WHO ARE SOME PAST WINNERS?
If you look at the list, you'll see names people recognize (June Callwood, Doris Anderson, Ursula Franklin), but it winds up being a nice combination of well-known women and those who work behind the scenes.
WHY DOES THE Y MATTER?
The Y has an important 130-year history of helping girls and women. Here at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic we work closely with the Y on both direct services for women escaping violence and advocacy toward systemic change.
WHICH OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Helping to found Interval House, the first women's shelter in Canada, over 30 years ago. I hold that close to my heart, and it changed my life. Still, there are 448 shelters in this country, used by over 100,000 a year. There's something fundamentally wrong when that many women and children have to leave their homes and schools to escape violence.
When we started, we were sure that if we just exposed what we knew about violence against women, people would band together and that would be the end of it. That didn't happen.
WHAT'S THE BEST WEAPON TO FIGHT THE PROBLEM?
I'm a big believer in mass public education campaigns, especially those aimed at younger women. The next generation has to learn that violence against women is not cool.
YOU MENTOR ALL KINDS OF WOMEN. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES?
The women who started the Elizabeth Fry Society, the women who founded the Barbra Schlifer clinic where I work now, the women who got bashed because they went to gay bars. We're all linked as we pass the torch from this generation to the next.
YOUR RESUME IS PACKED WITH FRONT-LINE WORK IN WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS.
HOW DO YOU KICK BACK? I have the best friends in the world. There's a comfort and intimacy whether we're just having dinner or canoeing on the lake. I really relax in the peace and harmony of the natural world with its lakes, trees, birds, sunsets and stars.
BEST BOOK ABOUT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
Remembering Women Murdered By Men: Memorials Across Canada, by the Memory Project (Sumach). It's about how 30 of Canada's 50 memorials to murdered women came about, documenting feminists' response to violence. It's important to remember the names of women who have died.
BEST MAINSTREAM FILM ABOUT THE SUBJECT?
Deepa Mehta's Water. It doesn't sensationalize and it's painfully real.