By Ryan Williams
In March of each year we celebrate women. Since 1909 International Women’s Day has been celebrated. In 1908, 15,000 women gathered in New York City to protest better pay, shorter hours, and voter rights and in 1909 women and men chose to recognize the importance of women in society in a month we celebrate still today.
In 2021, there is still a pendulum shift that is happening to recognize the importance of the equal status of women in our workplaces, our families, in politics, and in sports.
Women don’t need to be made strong, they are already strong, it’s the world that needs to change in its perception of women’s strength.
Equality is not achieved by equal representation of women but by breaking down the barriers that allow women to succeed on their own, as equals.
And we must work at that each and every day.
Take the March Madness NCAA tournament for instance, where a social media post highlighted by a tweet from Stanford strength coach Ali Kershner and a video from Oregon’s Sedonia Prince went viral with nearly 16 million views showing off a single rack of dumbbells and yoga mats for the women’s teams, compared to an entire gym filled with equipment for the men’s teams. The NCAA fixed this, but not after widespread outrage.
We have also had successes and when women lift themselves up, they help each other succeed, and succeed they do! We have had incredible women business leaders, politicians, and athletes make their mark on our region. A small representation of this would include women such as Chandy Davis, Vicki Samaras, Caroline Granger, Sherri Karlo, and Kristin Crowe, political leaders such as Marg Esbester, Mary-Ann Sills, and Robin Jeffrey, and athletes such as Jackie Jarrell, Elizabeth Manley, and Jesse Mercer.
All of our local Chambers of Commerce are run by strong women: Jill Raycroft, Suzanne Andrews, and Lesley Lavender.
Loyalist College is lead by Dr. Ann Marie Vaughn.
Tawnya Smith and Connie Carson are two of the The 100 Women who Care Quinte organization which has raised over $240,000 to local charities and non-profits since its inception in 2015. They will be meeting again during the pandemic by Zoom to continue to give back.
Volunteer Information Quinte is run by Brenda Snider, which supports 275 agencies in our region, and Brenda is a tireless advocate for volunteerism.
Michelle Stroud has been a big part of our life, and a close friend. She runs By the Moon, which specializes in women’s holistic reproductive health. She teaches others how to care and support women and families through their personal journeys of fertility, birth, and loss. She is a beautiful example of women supporting women.
I am very fortunate myself to be surrounded by strong women in my life. I am married to an incredibly strong woman Allyson, who has been an advocate for women who have suffered through infant loss and infertility. She wrote a blog called Always Choose Love that shared her stories when we lost our son, Teddy, at birth which has been read by people all over the world and has helped many people.
Losing our son really showed me how the majority of caretakers and compassionate caregivers are female-oriented and how invaluable the work they do truly is. We were supported by the incredible Quinte Midwives, OB Dr. Melanie Chanda, the nurses, Mary Joan Brinson for counselling and Tracey Kennedy for healing. Our experience and grief would have been complicated without them. It is essential work.
Not long after Ally and I lost our son, Teddy, there emerged an incredible group of women that lead the ‘Butterfly Run’, a local event that recognized and supported women through miscarriage and infant loss. Beth Primeau, Loralee McInroy, and Barb Matteucci raised over $341,000 for the Belleville General Hospital Foundation and inspired other runs in Peterborough, Ottawa, and Brockville.
My grandmother Audrey has always been a strong role model for me, as has been my mother Heather, who was an entrepreneur and had two best selling cookbooks as well as was a successful dietitian for over 35 years. My grandmother Pearle was an inspiration for me as well.
Our businesses, all with Williams Hotels, are run by strong women. Georgia MacLean and Betty Moon-Rae have been with us both for over 35 years, who run our Towneplace Marriott, while Maria Doucett, also with the company for more than 25 years runs our Holiday Inn in Orleans, and Tonisha Porter and Amanda Bronzan run the Best Western in Belleville. Lorrie Ostroskie and Kelly MacDonald run the Holiday Inn Express in Belleville.
And I have an incredible team for my run to be your Conservative Member of Parliament lead by Susan Smith, my Campaign Manager who leads a largely-female volunteer group.
As you can see, my life has been greatly impacted by so many women. As a Father to a young girl named Zooey, my greatest wish for her is to experience life where the playing field is levelled, she feels safe, opportunities without barriers are the norm and she like all women are honour for their valuable place in our world.
There are so many women doing so much in the Bay of Quinte, I can’t list them all, but I see you, I appreciate you and all your contributions. I truly want to say a big thank-you!
Ryan Williams is the Conservative Candidate for Bay of Quinte. You can read more about him at www.votewilliams.ca