March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

Search International Women’s Day on Google or #IWD2013 on Twitter and your feed will be flooded with articles, quotes, statistics, and information…

I’m excited about where we can take this conversation, the groups and organizations we can join or support, how we can inspire change, and how we can build stronger leadership teams where men and women work together to come up with new ways of doing things.

Women have historically been underrepresented in almost all fields: science, business and politics. International Women’s Day is still needed to motivate change, at home and abroad.

Six months ago, Maggie Hermant spearheaded the creation of a networking group for Canadian Women in Sport (CWS). With the board stat noted above in mind, I am proud to sit on my first official board with CWS, alongside an impressive roster of accomplished individuals to help drive the conversation around women in sport, leadership and business.

For the past year, I have actively been using my voice for women in the workplace and women in sport. I have experienced self-doubt in taking on this issue...but I hope that it inspires others to pursue opportunities they didn’t think they could before, to sit at the table, have a voice, and seek out groups and organizations to support who have a focus on the development of girls and women.

Here is my short list of the people, ideas and events that have inspired me to push for change on International Women's Day.

1. My Guinness world record setting team of women. Read Canadian Running Magazine's recap.

2. The Canadian women's hockey team and of course their gold medal! Their performance in Sochi was unlike anything I've ever seen. Talk about grit!

Side dream as a little girl was to play for this team. While that didn't work out, ultimately that dream led me to pursue an education in the U.S. and play NCAA Division I hockey.

3. The young girls everywhere who participate in sports and the organizations that make it possible for kids to do so. I look forward to the day that women have the same opportunities in professional sports as male athletes. Over the last decade, sport has increasingly been used as a tool for empowering girls.

4. Rebecca Davies. A role model for all women looking to pursue a career in sport. A talented hockey player turned Toronto Maple Leafs hockey development instructor overseeing many community initiatives, General Manager of the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women's Hockey League, and exceptional ambassador for women's hockey.

5. In recognition of International Women’s Day, I attended CAAWS’ celebration luncheon with the Honourable Bal Gosal Minister of State (Sport), and a panel presentation that included Olympians Therese Brisson and Nicole Forrester, Nathalie Cook of TSN and Dr. Cheri Bradish of the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

I've come to know Cheri and Nathalie through the CWS board, they are both exceptionally inspiring and leading the charge for women in sport across the country. Their passion inspires me to think and dream big.

6. My coach Nicole Stevenson and the female elite runners, my training partners, she leads. These women pursue excellence in all areas of their life - academics, business, and of course in running.

7. My talented, bright, athletic and dynamic friends. Sport is usually our original commonality. I believe all girls should have the opportunity to participate in sport to learn about teamwork, build self-esteem and leadership skills.

8. The Toronto Marlies, for their dedication to providing opportunities for girls and young women through hockey to inspire and develop future leaders. The Marlies were proud to host their own Girl Guides World Thinking Day workshop centered around careers, leadership and women’s issues that will enable girls to be confident, resourceful, courageous, and make a difference in their community. I was extremely proud to participate!

9. All of the smart and talented mom's I set the bar high!

10. My mom. Enough said. She rocks.

11. My creative friends who try new things on a regular basis. I'm pointing at you, Ivana!

12. Clara Hughes. As she sets out to begin her cycling journey across Canada...I think it's fair to say she is one kick-ass woman to celebrate on International Women's Day!

13. The many organizations or people who are inspiring change every single are just a few worth noting: