First-of-its-kind conference brings gender equity to forefront, E Fry Kamloops says

Gender equity event a first

The Kamloops branch of the Elizabeth Fry Society drew about 70 people to its first ever gender equity conference last week, which took place Wednesday at Thompson Rivers University.

Nicole Green, equity project manager for the society, said the purpose of the conference was to spread awareness, help enact change, connect people committed to doing this work and progress the enhancement of gender equity in Kamloops.

The free one-day event saw a 14 speakers, including TRU professors, Kamloops Immigrant Services representatives and B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for gender equity, NDP MLA Kelli Paddon.

Green said the event drew attendees from a variety of backgrounds, including students, people with lived-experience and people from local social service centres.

Gender equity is not the same as gender equality, Green told Castanet Kamloops.

“It’s not just everyone gets the same and then they're set out to make things work with what they have. It's more acknowledging that marginalized genders — women [and] gender diverse people — have different requirements than others, especially when you have intersecting factors, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, those are compounding factors that make it even more challenging for people to succeed in our society based on a patriarchal system we live in,” Green said.

She said gender equity acknowledges these barriers exist and need to be overcome with “solutions that don't pull other people down” but rather “pulling each other up.”

Attendees heard from researchers, connected to the Elizabeth Fry Society’s gender equity project, regarding municipal governments responsibilities and gender equity intersectionality and economics. They also heard from Kamloops Immigrant Services on the intersectionality of being a newcomer and a person of colour experiencing gender inequity.

During the conference attendees also learned about the B.C. Office of the Human Rights Commissioner database to help navigate gender equity in the workplace, and about the Elizabeth Fry Society’s family stepping stones program — the only second stage housing in Kamloops for women who have fled violence.

“We hope people take away a little bit more information, a little bit more understanding and a lot more motivation to act,” Green said, adding she hopes to make the conference an annual event.

She said while the society has had a panel discussion in the past on the subject, the conference was meant to bring more information forward, and heighten the level of engagement with the community.

Some of the speeches from the March 27 event can be viewed on the society’s Facebook page.

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