Tuesday, March 8, 2011

10 + 1 Canadian women who made a difference + 2 International Women Powerhouses

Of all the newspapers, I thought that The Star had the best list and photogallery to share for International Women's Day.

I would also like to add for architects, Esther Marjorie Hill who was the first woman to graduate from an architecture program in Canada and the first woman to become a registered architect in Canada.

Esther Marjorie Hill graduating from U of T Architecture Program (from her profile in Library and Archives Canada)

There is also Blanche Van Ginkel's entry in the Canadian Encylcopedia. Blanche Van Ginkel was herself one of the earliest women in North America to be appointed director of a school of architecture when she was hired in 1977 by University of Toronto, as described on the history page of U of T's Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design written up by Prof. Larry Richards.

Internationally (because of course it's International Women's Day!) there are two provocative women who I have been following and who have made immeasurable contributions to the lives of women and men in their countries....

 Dr. Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist, activist and founder of Navdanya, committed to protecting biodiversity, empowering ordinary people, especially women, protecting farmers and promoting peace. She has a Canadian connection because she recieved her M.A. from the University of Guelph and Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario. She also comes back to Canada frequently to lecture, as she will be doing tomorrow, March 9, at the University of Calgary. In November 2010 she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in association with which she gave a lecture in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. Dr. Shiva has been invited all over the world to give lectures, many of which are available on YouTube.

Dr. Shiva's interview on Australian T.V. the day before giving her Sydney Peace Prize Lecture.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf  of Liberia is the first female head of state elected in Africa. She was inaugurated in January 2006. Liberia's infrastructure and economy was devastated by years of war and will take decades to rebuild. Faced with the challenges of taking over an administration of government bureaucracies where bribes and corruption had become commonplace, her approach has been to bring in several strong women to head various departments and to confront staff honestly with her concerns and demands for change.

First part of the movie Iron Ladies of Liberia documenting President Sirleaf's first year in office

The PBS Independent Lens website has information on the documentary Iron Ladies of Liberia and lots of background details on the country. It includes a page with a clip from the movie of a particularly impressive encounter between the President and former soldiers protesting outside the government building. 2011 is an election year for Liberia and in October President Sirleaf will run for a second term. This is a woman and a country to watch.

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