Devra Charney/ The Silhouette

On Friday March 8, the global community celebrated International Women’s Day. The 2013 theme focused on promoting gender equality in a modern progressive world.

On campus, McMaster hosted multidisciplinary activist and educator Kim Crosby. Her workshop on anti-racism as well as her keynote address were much-anticipated events for a number of students and community members.

Emilee Guevara, member of Feminist Alliance McMaster (FAM), was pleased to see McMaster bring Crosby and the values that she represents to campus, hoping for similar speakers in the future.

“This event was awesome to have Kim here speaking. International Women’s Day is to talk about women, but it’s to talk about issues that affect all women, so that’s where her theme of intersectionality is really important… I hope that events like this can continue every year and in every space, not just on specific days.”

FAM endeavours to make sure campus remains accessible throughout the year for students looking to connect and align with other feminists in a safe environment. Guevara added that FAM’s activism also extends off campus to related community events where members can meet up and attend as a group.

“Women and men have joined together to go to certain events, like Take Back the Night, like the SlutWalk, celebrate International Women’s Day… hopefully making connections for women who have felt either silenced, objectified, sexualized, who have experienced rape and harassment and sexual assault – realities in the lives of women everywhere.”

And in an effort to address the issue of violence against women in a McMaster context, The Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton & Area (SACHA) and YWCA Hamilton have partnered together for the It’s Time to End Violence Against Women on Campus project funded by Status of Women Canada.

Project coordinator and Mac alum Alicia Ali said that McMaster currently lacks specific guidelines on dealing with violence against women on campus.

“The project is split into two phases – information gathering and outcome,” she explained. “The information-gathering phase includes surveys and focus groups to identify current gaps, priorities, resources, opportunities, and strengths around the issue of violence against women on campus.”

Students are invited to attend sessions as part of a Safety Audit scheduled for March 18and 19 so that they can provide feedback on safety around campus. A campus walk-about will also allow students to point out specific problem areas and voice their concerns about unsafe parts of campus after dark.

“The second phase of the project includes a campus wide awareness campaign, events on campus, and a campus community protocol in how the university responds to instances of violence against women,” said Ali.

“We hope to explore the possibility of introducing a gender-based analysis to all policy development at the university.”

The project coordinators and advisory committee will provide the University with a list of recommendations after a two-year period on how to increase safety for women as well as involve the campus community in a more informed approach to dealing with the culture of violence against women.

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