People around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, and a local non-profit will be holding two events to mark the occasion.
“It’s great that at one point in the year we take some time to think about where have we made some progress, where is there still some work to do and to actually engage with every generation,” Genesis House executive director Angela Braun said.
Genesis House will be holding a quiz night in Morden and a lunch and learn session in Winkler to mark International Women’s Day and fundraise for the non-profit.
On March 6 therapist and trainer John Koop Harder will be leading a lunch and learn session about supporting mental health in the workplace.
Braun said the topic is especially important to her work at Genesis House. “We have to make sure that our colleagues are doing okay,” she said. “If you’re giving and giving of yourself, at some point that well might become dry. We try to keep track of it here.”
“We spend so much of our time at work,” she added. “The people that might notice if something is not quite right with us might be our work colleagues.”
The lunch and learn is open to all members of the community. Registration is $40, which includes lunch, before Feb. 25 (by phone at 204-325-9957 ext. 2221).
March 7 at St. Paul’s United Church in Morden will be quiz night. Manitoba’s own quizmasters Robin and Maria Allan of Stonewall will be hosting. Registration is $20 a person and the deadline is March 4.
If you don’t have a team of eight, you can sign up in smaller groups or individually and organizers will find you a team.
Last year Genesis House switched from a family dance in Morden to a quiz night and said it went over well.
“If you’ve ever been to one, you want to go back again, they’re so fun,” Braun said. “Because we’re a regional service we like to have events in different places. It’s a very fast paced evening, you’ll look at your watch and it’s 9:30. It’s crazy how quickly it goes.”
Braun said it’s important to have a time of the year when women’s issues can be discussed. “[Two years ago] I was talking with an older woman about attending the Women’s March in the States, she was in her 80s, and she said, ‘I can’t believe I’m still doing this.’ We ought not to get complacent. It’s important that we talk about it. The women that have come before have really laid down a path and we have to fight to make sure that we keep that path and keep it clear and moving forward.”
The International Women’s Day theme is #BalanceforBetter, and the Canadian theme this year is #InnovateforChange. “When we see something that doesn’t seem right or fair and there seems to be no reason other than gender, ask those questions,” Braun said. “I know that takes a lot of courage because for the most part things have been the way they have been for such a long time, that if women are pushing forward, or any group for that matter, it feels like another group is having to give up a little. That can really become tense.”
“It really is about engaging in that dialogue, making sure we’re asking questions when things don’t seem right or fair,” she added.
In the 2017/18 fiscal year, Genesis House provided shelter for 46 women and 56 children, a number that Braun said is lower than average.
However, the numbers don’t necessarily mean a cause to celebrate yet. “We haven’t had a change in our funding for over 10 years,” Braun said. “It means that we’re not as able to go out and do that public education. We just don’t have as many staff available to do those types of things. Because we don’t have a storefront, it really scares me that perhaps people aren’t aware there is a service available if they need one.”
“Given that our service area is so large, to try to reach the corners of our service area makes it really tough,” she added.