SEAM International Women’s Day Feature. Part 4
In conjunction with our partners the Canadian Women’s Foundation, SEAM is celebrating female leaders we look up to all week long! March 8, 2019, is International Women’s Day: a time to celebrate progress made, but also a time to push for a more gender-equal world. The theme chosen this year is ‘Balance for Better Leadership’.
Part 4. Meet a Changemaker: Paulette Senior, Canadian Women’s Foundation
Let’s meet one of the changemakers in Canada working for gender equality: Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Q: Paulette, much of your work on gender equality has focused on removing barriers for women and girls. What barriers have you faced in your own journey?
A: The school system didn’t really value me and didn’t really see me as bright and capable; in fact, it told me the opposite. Coming back from that impact on my self-esteem has been a lifelong journey. And the way I’ve made it work is by remembering who I am. That I am indeed capable, and that I am committed to justice and equality.
Being a black woman and dealing with systemic issues and barriers is no different than what other women from racialized and marginalized communities face. I can relate to that and I’m an advocate for systemic change. We have to do them and make sure that women are housed, safe, supported, and cared for at a community level.
But I also believe that the work that we’re doing should make a difference in the lives of future generations of women so that they don’t have to face the same barriers. It’s important that the Foundation has that lens of creating systemic change.
Q: What do you think it will take to achieve gender equality in Canada, and what is the Foundation’s role in achieving that?
A: I think we need to set a timeline, and we need to invest in achieving gender equality. I’d also like to see the elimination of violence against women and girls; I don’t think that’s impossible. I think that with a concerted effort over a period of time, we can make it happen.
In 25 years, what I want to see is a complete change in terms of setting a target and working towards accomplishing it. The Foundation can play a critical role in that. We can work with others to help set the agenda for the next couple of decades, and create a strategic partnership and process with government, community collaborators, and corporations to develop targets we can work towards together. I think the Foundation and other like-minded organizations need to be working collaboratively to change and transform the landscape for women and girls in Canada.
“I’ve been an activist my entire life, and I think activism shapes you in a way where you see something that is wrong and you have to address it. Maybe that’s what prepared me for the kind of leadership role I’m in now.”
Q: Looking ahead, what’s next for the Canadian Women’s Foundation?
A: As you know, it’s been a time of marches, #MeToo, and unprecedented public awareness. At the Canadian Women’s Foundation, this renewed momentum has increased our sense of urgency. This is the moment to take our next big stride forward — or risk losing the ground we’ve gained.
The Foundation has never been better positioned to transform the energy of this moment into progress. In consultation with our supporters and stakeholders, we have created a strategic plan that maps a clear path to advancing gender equity over the next few years. To get there, we will be bold, daring, and determined — because that’s what it will take to create the kind of lasting, systemic change that will become reality for generations of women and girls to come.
The Lotus is a personal safety wearable that, when paired with the SEAM app, lets you record and share your GPS location with streaming audio, access your voice assistant and communicate hands-free. For each Lotus personal safety device sold, $1 will be donated to the Canadian Women’s Foundation.