Supporting Women Beyond International Women’s Day

Vancouver Magazine editors reflect on what we’re doing for the women in our world today and every day.

Here at Vanmag our office is a rarity, especially by media standards: it’s full of women. While the gender gap in journalism and publishing is closing, it still usually favours men. But this isn’t just about our office, this year International Women’s Day has added significance in the Trump era when women’s rights—human rights—require attention and protection. So we took some time to reflect on what feminism means to us, and what we’re doing to empower women all year round. (Photo by Writers’ Exchange)

Share Your Passion

It’s hard to say whether or not I started volunteering with Writers’ Exchange to be a literacy mentor to children in inner-city schools, or because we get to do fun things together like writing comics, creating spaceships for egg aliens and solving scavenger hunts. Either way, there’s a handful of kids I am making a (hopefully positive) impression on—including girls who will hopefully grow up feeling inspired to create and empowered to tell stories. Stacey McLachlan, Executive Editor

Let Women Change Your Perspective

One of the things about having daughters, is that it opens up your world view in a hurry. Once upon a time I could watch Hugh Grant movies without hopping on IMDB to see how much younger his female love interests are, or I could walk through the Louvre or MOMA without mentioning the disproportionate number of male artists, but when you’re doing such pastimes with two young women in tow the obligation index ratchets up. The funny (and excellent) thing is, that they didn’t need the changing—growing up with a strong mother they learned the inequities of their gender’s station shortly after birth and have been strong proponents for women’s rights ever since. Since while I’d like to say my guiding them on that journey is doing my part, the fact is that they’re already square with how things have to change—it’s me that’s playing catch-up. Neal McLennan, Food Editor

Inspire Women Around You

I want to be available to young women writers, it’s something I make time for. When I was leaving my position at the Vancouver Courier as a columnist I made sure my replacement was another young woman, it’s something I really pushed for. I encouraged a colleague to apply for the position and tried to give her confidence to feel comfortable in opinion writing, which is primarily the domain of older men. I want to support women’s rights by teaching women to be brazen, you matter, your voice and your opinion matters. I also make time to speak to the men in my life, like my dad, about what being a feminist means, men can be feminists too. —Jessica Barrett, Senior Editor (Photo by YMCA)

Be a Mentor

I’ve volunteered for about 10 years with the YWCA in their mentorship program—mentoring girls as they figure out what they want to do after high school. I also teach communications at Capilano University, and one of my lectures focuses on “embracing failure,” pointing to a stat that says men will apply for a job when they’re 60 percent qualified, and women will only do so when they’re 100 percent qualified. So I encourage the women in the class to take the leap, take a risk in the job they want, even if they think they’re not quite ready yet. —Anicka Quin, Editorial Director

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It Doesn’t Have to be ‘Official’

I’m not a picket-sign-waving, fight-for-our-rights kind of person (I’ll even own up to the fact that I could be doing more), and while I love and appreciate seeing how other women take action—volunteering at local organizations, mentoring young girls, marching alongside thousands—I think small, everyday gestures can have just as big of an impact on female lives today. Make an effort to be kind to one another, support one another, respect one another, empower one another, love one another—it’s something I strive to do, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day. —Kaitlyn Gendemann, Staff Writer

Start With Your Own Family

In my last 28 years in this industry I’ve worked under women, except for one man. I will be doing the same thing I do on a daily basis which is to offer my continued respect and support on equal footing to all the amazing women in my personal and professional life. And to have a thoughtful conversation with my eight-year-old son Theo to help emphasize the importance of respect and equality. —Paul Roelofs, Art Director

Be Yourself

I’ve struggled with this question all week because I feel like it’s almost like asking, “What are you doing to be a good person?” What answer and proof could I offer that would ever sound like it’s good enough? And yet in so many small ways I would say the majority of people work hard to be good people, even if they’re not actively volunteering or mentoring or protesting. Every time I stop myself from referring to my female colleagues as “girls,” every podcast I listen to on the gender gap and what we can do about it, the effort I put into letting the women around me speak their full sentences without butting in, because data indicates women are less likely to speak up at all when they don’t necessarily know the answer. I have a joke with my group of lady improv friends, about creating T-shirts that say “Woke-est,” to poke fun at this activism or feminism that sometimes feels like a competition. I don’t want to be part of that feminism that takes people to task for not doing enough, we don’t all have the time or opportunity to participate in an event or rally instead of working part-time jobs, or the time to mentor other women in journalism when a lot of us are struggling to keep afloat in a volatile layoff-forward industry ourselves. I don’t say this to detract from others’ efforts. I truly appreciate the people who make time to make a difference for other women; I’ve felt a lot of that benefit first-hand with not one, but four amazing female role model bosses and umpteen colleagues. I’m impressed and inspired by everyone working to make a difference (hopefully I too can do more for women in the year to come), and on International Women’s Day it’s actually really nice to hear stories about this progress; it offsets the constant stream of utterly depressing news articles about Canada’s “unfounded” sex assaults, U.S. women losing their right to choose, international girls denied education, and the list goes on and on. —Julia Dilworth, Associate Editor This post was edited on Mar, 8 2017 at 12:30pm