Equal Futures in STEM
Written by Cheryl Kristiansen, Senior Project Manager – SCALE, STEM Forward & STEM Streams
A team from SCWIST recently participated in Equal Futures 2023 – Gender Equality Summit in Whitehorse, along with over 225 leaders from gender equality organizations across Canada.
SCWIST has been a member of Equal Futures Network Canada for several years now and actively participates to ensure the voices of women in STEM are heard nationally. The network now includes over 530 organizations that support equity-deserving groups. (Explore the Network Map to learn more about each organization and the services that they provide.)
Equal Futures Network Canada creates a platform for connection and collaboration to drive progress on gender equality from coast to coast to coast. It builds on our strengths and infuses new energy, while providing opportunities to create authentic connections, share expertise in gender equality, and shine a light on the work of Canadians through compelling stories of empowerment.
People, Perspectives and Partnerships
This year’s Equal Futures 2023 Gender Equality Summit was held on the traditional territories of Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. Through the theme of ‘People, Perspectives and Partnerships’, the summit created the opportunity to center the diversity of voices that make up the gender equality movement, share experiences from the North and highlight the unique challenges faced by northern and rural communities.
A key highlight of the summit experience was learning more about Indigenous communities throughout the Yukon, where 10 of the 14 First Nations are led by women, and understanding the strength and nuances of the matriarchal society. Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott set the tone for the Gender Equality Summit with opening comments about the unique needs and challenges of women in this region. Attendees also explored the cultural displays at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre and enjoyed inspiring performances by the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers and Spoken Word from Yukon Speaks.
Equal Futures 2023 created many learning opportunities and networking connections for the SCWIST team to strengthen our capacity, understand diverse perspectives, share expertise and shape a path towards a more equitable Canada.
“In the opening panel of the summit, Tamara Voudrach spoke very passionately about how community building is like creating a self-sustaining system, which is an important reminder for us at the STEM Streams program as we continue to engage with women who are searching for a community to support their professional lives”, shared Nathalie Brennan, Regional Coordinator for Quebec for SCWIST’s STEM Streams pilot program.
The Criterion Institute’s session on ‘Finance as a Strategy for Social Change’ included a comprehensive toolkit with resources to explore social change assets, how power operates, stages of growth, risk management, and specific social change strategies. “A powerful learning moment for the SCWIST team came from the understanding that finance is a system that is made up by humans and therefore we can change it. That means we can address bias in finance, change how funding programs are designed, improve funding decision processes, and increase access to finance and capital to fuel social change goals,” emphasized SCWIST Project Manager Cheryl Kristiansen.
During the enlightening ‘Future of Feminism’ fireside chat, Dr. Amanda Zavits, a prominent feminist activist, shared her insights on the current state of the feminist movement and her vision for the future. In her inspiring discourse, she emphasized the importance of inclusivity and the need to involve individuals of all genders in the fight for justice, equity, and inclusivity. Driven by the concept of a “fifth” wave of feminism, this vision seeks to harness the collective power of diverse voices to address issues ranging from educational fairness and workplace equality to leadership opportunities, the gender pay gap, and healthcare.
“The Policy & Impact Committee at SCWIST is actively engaged in developing initiatives aimed at fostering fairness and gender equality in various spheres. The impact of these efforts would be greatly amplified with the collaboration and support of allies from all genders, reinforcing the notion that true progress towards a just and equitable society requires collective action,” explained Maryam Zarei, Policy & Impact Committee Member.
Stay in touch
Stay tuned to our SCWIST newsletter updates for a Resource Link to view the keynote presentations, knowledge spotlights and panel discussions on topics including: addressing gender-based violence, understanding the needs of Indigenous communities, co-creating programs that are accessible, Pride at Work initiatives, finance as a strategy for social change, and the future of feminism to create a more just, equitable and inclusive society. Not signed up yet? Scroll down the page to find the subscription box.