Tierney Watkinson | News Director
Inspiring Women Among Us (IWAU), the annual community event series, is returning strong in 2017. Designed to celebrate women’s contributions to Canadian and global societies, IWAU will discuss ways society can support our female colleagues, friends, and family members. “Women, Work, and Allies” is the theme of this year’s event, which takes place November 16-29.
In 2015, Dr. Zoe Meletis (Associate Professor of Geography) and Dr. Annie Booth (Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management Program) of UNBC created and co-directed the first annual IWAU event. Along the way, they have been helped significantly by fellow professors, students, and community members alike who volunteer a great deal of time and effort. For several years now, the City of Prince George has also supported the event with small funding allocations, attendance, and a City Proclamation.
Integral to the success of IWAU is the Student Planning Assistant—this year, the position is held by Furqana Khan. A Graduate student at UNBC, she is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Khan is hard at work organizing volunteers, sending out posters, and otherwise readying IWAU for the opening ceremonies on November 16.
A great deal of her job involves answering a constant stream of emails and other inquiries, Khan discloses. She was surprised and genuinely pleased by the influx of students wanting to volunteer at the event, as well as by the number of people who approach her or IWAU tabling events simply wanting to learn more about it. People in the broader Prince George community, too, have been reaching out and wanting to contribute in any way they can, she added. Khan encourages anyone interested in volunteering to connect with her and think ahead to next year as well—joining an organizing committee for the event is also an option for next year’s events. According to Dr. Booth and Dr. Meletis, a dedicated pre-event volunteer-supported organizational core will help IWAU survive and thrive in the future.
Khan’s work will not end with the closing ceremonies of IWAU—there will be plenty of work still to do in the form of official reports, which are available on the IWAU website. And, after the closing ceremonies mark the end of this year’s event series, there will be a few IWAU events in the coming semester to be on the lookout for, such as Shimmy into Spring, a co-hosted fundraiser for IWAU and the Prince George Pride Society. Talented burlesque artists and other performers will also be showcased at later dates, at our very own Thirsty Moose Pub.
IWAU events will occur not only on campus but at multiple venues throughout Prince George, including the Prince George Public Library and Hub Space. Khan notes that IWAU 2017 events will be taking place across UNBC’s regional campuses as well. Several of the UNBC home campus events will be livestreamed, she says, in order to let as many people as possible view presentations. There will also be an IWAU-related (Colored Girl Narrative) podcast, via CFUR Radio 88.7FM, which will be open to the public.
Khan highlighted, “We are going to have the Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, talk about How Post-Secondary Institutions Can Be Allies to Those Excluded from Universities.” The MLA will be speaking immediately after the Opening Ceremonies, which start at 9:30am and continue through to 11am, on November 16. A brief Q&A session will follow, moderated by Dr. Dan Ryan (Provost and Vice-President, Academic).
Everyone is welcome to IWAU, Khan emphasizes, and there is a broad spectrum of activities being hosted. All but a few of these events are free to attend. “We have panels and workshops for people who are interested in running their own businesses, we have panels about how we can facilitate women and their success in medicine…” Khan lists, adding that there will be films and a play too, for those passionate about the arts. Speakers from a variety of disciplines will be giving talks in accordance with the 2017 IWAU theme. “There is something in it for everybody,” Khan states, “whether you are a woman or not.”
You can find out about this year’s schedule and additional information on the IWAU website (https://www.unbc.ca/inspiring-women); you can also email Furqana Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org. IWAU can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and will be hosting a Snapchat account for this year’s events. Be sure to follow IWAU on social media, and to attend IWAU 2017!