To some, gender empowerment may sound like the title of a university course or a buzzword heard on social media, but what does it mean? It is more than a term or a collection of words, though, as those affected by the imbalance of power face more barriers, have fewer opportunities, and can be used, ignored, or abused in their professional careers and their personal lives. On July 25th attendees of Summit 2022 – Gender Empowerment, were witness to a lively and informative discussion with a dynamic and diverse set of speakers including City of Regina Mayor Sandra Masters! The goal of the summit was bringing together community leaders to educate our University of Regina student membership on how organizations and services in Regina can work to better empower those who identify across the gender spectrum and beyond the traditional gender binary. Below Pedram Monafred, URSU VP Operations & Finance, discusses the influential event.
What are areas, institutions, or industries where gender empowerment is most needed?
Depending on how you define gender empowerment, there is a clear underrepresentation of 2spirit trans and non-binary people, as well as cis-women in most workplaces and industries. So gender empowerment is needed across all parts of society and culture and in all institutions and industries.
Why was it important for URSU to host this summit?
Student Unions have a long history of fighting for equity and against oppression. It was important for URSU to hold this summit to build a space where members of the community, students, the labour movement and representatives of Regina can come together to build relationships and organize together to move towards gender equity.
Why was it important to have this event in Regina?
Regina is the birth place of many cultural and social movements. There is no better place to begin conversations around gender and equity, given this long and rich history.
Why did you choose The Lazy Owl as a venue?
The Lazy Owl is a longstanding institution in Regina. We are working to make the Lazy Owl more reflective of what is happening in Regina today, and show what kind of events and spaces the Lazy Owl can be used for.
What were some highlights from the event?
It was exciting to have both the Mayor, members of the Legislative Assembly, community members such as the Executive Director of UR Pride, and the President of the Regina & District Labour Council all under one roof to share space and their perspectives in how to change the conversations and directions around gender in Regina.
How can the lessons learned at Summit 2022 be expanded?
Our next steps will be to build a report on the Summit, and work towards creating recommendations to build gender empowerment in Regina.
In your opinion, how can gender empowerment be achieved? Has it been achieved, if so where?
The fight for gender equity is an ongoing one and intrinsically tied to the way society works. Until society as a whole is changed we cannot achieve full gender equity.
As a male-identifying person, how can you ensure equality, increase parity, and assist those being discriminated against because of their gender?
As a cis-male, my efforts are rooted in supporting those who are discriminated because of their gender. For example, this summit consists entirely of folks who are not cis-male. In addition, it is important that cis-men also take on the work of having and supporting these conversations