Marking the occasion in the region, the Marit Collective hosted the fifth annual International Women’s Day event at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo.
The day full of speakers and workshops focused on issues that have an impact on women’s lives, which was right up the alley for a social group that believes in change through individual actions.
The conversations and discussions Saturday related global issues faced by women to a Region of Waterloo audience, said volunteer and speaker liaison Emily Lucke.
“The speakers are all primarily, if not exclusively, women from the area, Kitchener-Waterloo, who are speaking to their different areas of expertise. So, there’s quite the range, from consultants, doulas … sex workers, toxic masculinity workshops.”
Among the speakers was Beth Murch, whose well-attended presentation was entitled ‘It’s Not Enough to Be Pro-Choice: An Introduction to Reproductive Justice.’ The workshop involved both a speech from Murch as well as interactive dialogue raising questions concerning the right to choose and other abortion-related topics.
After a comment made by a woman in the audience about being denied access to abortions for health concerns by a doctor, Murch replied, “If he [the doctor] says he wasn’t authorized to prescribe abortion medication, that does not exist.”
She noted it’s not an unusual practice from doctors, including outright refusal at times.
Murch also explained why reproductive justice is a movement that is getting attention and has the ability to overshadow pro-choice initiatives.
“The pro-choice movement itself is deeply demoralized because of attacks on services like funding providers and the individual people seeking abortion. Whereas the reproductive justice movement is actually really coming to life right now. It’s exciting. It’s growing,” she said. “And there’s strong leadership emerging from people of colour. So unlike previous generations where we’ve struggled for access to abortion, we’re seeing people of colour included more or giving people of colour the opportunity to be [more involved]. And this is really important because their voices have previously been silenced.”
The event offered pay-it-forward and subsidized ticket funding under the belief no one should be turned away from attending.
Along with the presentations, there was a market set up featuring local women’s products and companies.