This month we are featuring the Women Empowerment Club (WEC) at York University, a feminist student club founded in 2011 with the purpose of empowering all self-identifying women in the York community. WEC aims to provide an open and safe space for people of different genders, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. They welcome members of diverse backgrounds and strongly believe that society as a whole needs to be involved to drive social change.
Throughout history women have persisted through oppression and inequality, remaining resilient and making new laws and pathways that put us on the same level as men. International Women’s Day is March 8. It recognizes women for their achievements regardless of national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political status. The theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge The theme celebrates how we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
The WEC has been raising awareness on various issues such as women and health and domestic violence through its initiatives over the years. I met with Ava Tamizifar, the president of the Women Empowerment Club and got to ask her questions about the club and what empowering women means to her. She is studying International Business at Schulich and graduating in 2022.
Women Empowerment Club
Speaking about the Women Empowerment Club’s mandate and goal, Ava said “A lot of people think we focus on women but we focus on equality. We are open to anyone attending – any backgrounds, any gender, any sexuality. We want people to be comfortable in their own skin. We want to create equality for everybody which is most important for us.”
The WEC offers all sorts of support for its members. “We have a mentorship ambassadors’ program where members can anonymously submit questions and receive support,” she said. “We also have a community chat where members can ask questions and have a conversation with our executives or just connect with each other.”
Ava stressed that the club, “focus[es] on equality. For example, when we were hiring our executives, we tried to make sure there was no bias. Applications did not include names or any identifying information, so that we could focus on the applicants’ qualifications and work without having unconscious bias. Our club may have ‘women’ in the name, but we are open to everyone.”
The Future is Equality Conference
WEC’s biggest event of the year is its annual conference, providing members with an opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and connect to the leaders of the feminist world. From TEDx speakers and workshops to raffles and a bursary, this conference has it all and will be a great place to meet and learn from world leaders. This year, the virtual conference is on March 12 from 5:30 to 8:45 p.m. Make sure you register to attend.
“This has been planned since the summer, it has been our big project, our baby,” Ava said. “We have three amazing speakers. Our keynote speaker is a TEDx speaker. We have two workshops, one which focuses on mindfulness and meditation practices which everyone can use given COVID and stress. We are so excited to have motivating speakers, it’s going to be an energy boosting and inspiring event for everyone that attends.”
Ava also added, “We are trying to make it fun with raffles and our bursary. We’ve raised $500 so far which will go to two recipients and will be awarded during the conference.”
Newsletter, Ambassadors and Membership
Despite everyone working from home, the WEC has managed to hold several virtual events throughout the year. “We partner with different clubs. We had a self-defence that was promoted to everyone regardless of gender.”
Ava went on to say that at the self-defence class, “I felt so empowered! It gave us such a good feeling. There was a build-up of energy, even though it was over Zoom, you could see everybody doing the moves and hyping each other up.”
Another event held by the WEC was a poetry slam which was a hit!
The WEC also has an awesome newsletter which features articles and creative work by ambassadors and members. They also increased outreach via social media and started the ambassador’s program.
How to Join?
Social Media for the Women Empowerment Club
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