Exceeding Expectations At NYWC’s Empower-her Showcase

NYWC's International Women's Day Empower-her event was a success, thanks in part to amazing volunteers.

Our first in-person International Women’s Day (IWD) event in three years was a hit, thanks to our planners, speakers, participants, volunteers, vendors, prize providers and more!

After three years of pandemic lockdowns and Zoom events, the North York Women’s Centre team really wanted to create a special IWD celebration to bring local women and experts together in person. To maximize impact, NYWC retained Prevania Padayachee, a freelance event and marketing specialist, to help organize the Empower-her Showcase on March 8th.

“Many annual events are still facing a lower turnout than before Covid, but the turnout at our NYWC Empower-her International Women’s Day event exceeded expectations,” says Padayachee. “In a world where virtual meetings have become the norm, it was so gratifying to see attendees coming together and exchanging handshakes, smiles, conversations, and even hugs.”

NYWC Executive Director Iris Fabbro appreciated Padayachee’s energy, ideas and attention to detail, resulting in an event with over 100 attendees, a catered lunch, service provider exhibits, interactive workshops and the launch of NYWC’s Ending GBV Toolkit, an online training program funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.

“The event celebrated the accomplishments of women while also providing a joyful opportunity for our participants to connect, share knowledge and access important community resources,” says Fabbro.

Highlighting Inclusivity

“What’s impressive about North York Women’s Centre is their dedication to translating their mission into action and programs that have a genuine impact,” says Padayachee. “I’ve encountered few organisations that prioritize inclusivity as well as NYWC does. Iris and the team facilitate inclusive empowerment with practical event measures such as covering transportation costs and offering free childcare services.”

Diverse voices were heard at the event, as well. Kicking off the festivities, participants heard from NYWC Board Chair Jodi Wright, local elected representatives such as City Councillor Frances Nunziata and staff from the offices of MP Hon. Ahmed Hussen and MPP Hon. Michael Ford, and Lillian Chumbley, who led the development of our Ending GBV toolkit. NYWC also invited local organizations to participate, including The Assaulted Women’s Helpline, Building UP, FCJ Refugee Centre, JVS Toronto, The Career Foundation, United For Literacy and The Learning Enrichment Foundation, among others. We’re grateful for everyone’s contributions.

The Ending GBV Toolkit 

This International Women’s Day event was a fitting opportunity to introduce NYWC’s Ending GBV Toolkit. Lillian Chumbley explained how this valuable resource will help organizations address women’s safety, security and privacy issues while providing digitally delivered gender-based violence services.

By outlining the resources, sample policies, and digital forum that the Ending GBV Toolkit provides, non-profit service organizations at the event learned how it can benefit them. Likewise, attendees understood more about GBV and what to be aware of when accessing digital services.

Interactive fun

Attendees enjoyed a highly interactive event from the moment they arrived at Empower-her. After being welcomed by NYWC volunteers, participants were invited to interact with the participating service providers and collect a sticker from each in a provided booklet. Attendees chatted with each other at communal tables while savouring a delicious lunch provided by Chef Zahir Hosen and his team. 

Afterward, participants had the opportunity to participate in workshops such as self-defence led by Wen-Do Women, drumming led by Rhythmic By Nature, an anti-human trafficking information session led by FCJ Refugee Centre or pod-mapping led by NYWC’s Emily Charman. Everyone received a swag bag and some even won prizes from Genuine Tea, Ruru Baked Ice Cream Shop, Pomp & Sass Turkish Towels and Better Chocolate

International Women’s Day 2025

Fabbro and the team are already thinking about a 2025 International Women’s Day event, as well as the services and programs that they’ll be offering until then. If you’re interested and able, you can get involved in these as a member or a donor.

“Everyone on the NYWC team, including the volunteers, is a strong passionate individual doing their part for the community — so you can’t help but feel motivated to do yours,” says Padayachee. Volunteers this year included Angie, Chander, Gloria, Liz, Naziha, Safiya, Tasia, Vanessa, Simran and Catherine. You’ll see some of them pictured at the top of this blog.

If you are considering donating to NYWC, I strongly encourage it,” adds Padayachee. “Your support will undoubtedly make a meaningful difference in the lives of the women they serve.”

Fabbro is delighted at the success of the 2024 event and looking forward to supporting and connecting with more Toronto women in the days and months ahead.

As she says, “We are all about fostering solidarity and community, advancing equality and empowering woman-identifying and gender-diverse people to create positive change.”

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