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Perspective: Mayor Gondek hosts International Women’s Day breakfast

Mayor Gondek said that after 137 years it was nice to have a woman greet guests at the International Women’s Day mayor’s breakfast.

The mayor hosted more than 50 women from across the city at a breakfast at Historic City Hall to bring together different perspectives and connect with one another. March 8 is International Women’s Day.

The mayor said she heard stories on the challenges of being a parent of a child with a disability, pregnancy and infant loss, and women that have faced discrimination.

“I think it’s always important to have diverse perspectives when you are considering the types of decisions that we make as a council,” Mayor Gondek said.

“These are things we need to talk about. And these are experiences we need to understand so that we create a stronger city that’s inclusive of everyone.

When asked if we were progressing fast enough on gender equality, the mayor’s answer was simple: No.

“We have a lot of work to do to make sure that the world is a more equitable place for all genders,” she said.

Having more women represented on city council was a big step. More women in leadership positions is good, she said.

“But listening, listening for the cues, listening for hesitation, when someone is uncomfortable, to reveal the truth, and giving people the space and the time to tell us what’s wrong and what we need to fix and then actually taking some action,” Mayor Gondek said.

“It’s good to listen, it’s even more important to take action.”

Variety and diversity of experience

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner attended the breakfast, and she too said it was a good place to share experiences.

“I think that was important to recognize the diversity and the variety of skill sets that were in the room today,” Penner said.

She quipped that to advance gender equity they should stop asking women to hold events outside work hours. There are extra hours and effort involved in that and recognizing everything from childcare costs to actual delivery of care is an important next step, Penner said.

“I think for me, it goes back to partnership. Having those honest conversations about what does care look like and supporting each other,” Penner said.

She noted a conversation with young women that something like not having baby changing stations in men’s washrooms. It’s those things that still need to be fixed.

“I think that when we talk about gender equity, we also have to look at those traditional roles and responsibilities and how in our public spaces that we break those down,” Penner said.

In Tuesday’s combined meeting of council, members will discuss allowing maternity, paternity, caregivers and medical leave for public boards, committee and commissions.