Women leaders in Milton, ON, talk about importance of International Women’s Day and Gender Gap in Canada

Diane Bandura Miller, Jenny Panda, Raufikat Oyawoye-Salami, Prafulla Vyas, and Sameera Ali all somehow touched women and others in the community.

Women leaders in Milton, ON, talk about importance of International Women’s Day and Gender Gap in Canada

The world has evolved; women walk step by step with men in today's world. But women's equality wasn't a well-sought affair in Canada and anywhere globally. The journey to transform a society where men were regarded as autarch, and women had almost no significance wasn't straightforward. Thousands of women sacrificed to get the freedom we currently own. The revolution to bring rights to women started in the 18th century. Women empowerment didn't mean anything in the past, but we're fortunate to live in a world where we have the freedom to express our emotions and voice. 

On International Women’s Day, Indo-Canadian Club reached out to women leaders from divergent cultures and backgrounds who contributed their time and resources to the community.

Diane Bandura Miller, Jenny Panda, Raufikat Oyawoye-Salami, Prafulla Vyas, and Sameera Ali all somehow touched women and others in the community. We've included their views on women and society in this article. 

Sameera Ali is Milton Town Councillor and Ontario Liberal Party MPP Candidate for Milton. Sameera is involved in community events and admired by the people of Milton for her extensive contribution to the community. 

Why do you think it's important to celebrate women's day? 

Sameera: The idea of International Women's Day is to celebrate the achievements of women in all areas of society.

How would you address the cultural issues that form the background of the gender pay gap? 

Sameera: The gender pay gap results from many factors, including race and ethnicity, disability, access to education, and age. As a result, different groups of women experience very different gaps in pay. The gender pay gap is a complex issue

that will require robust and inclusive solutions.

What are the most successful strategies for combating feminism's negative stereotypes, particularly at work? 

Sameera: Through consistent diversity, equity, and inclusion education and placing women in senior management and leadership positions, workplaces can start to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism.

Have you faced any hurdles in your career due to being a woman? 

Sameera: In my political life, I continue to get asked stereotypical questions like "how will you manage your political life when you have a large family." It's 2022, should we really be asking women these kinds of stereotypical questions?

What is the essential piece of advice you have been given? 

Sameera: "When they go low, we go high" - Michelle Obama

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action on women's issues? 

Sameera: It's a broad issue that needs concrete action from all stakeholders.

What can we do to address gender stereotypes? 

Sameera: Through consistent diversity, equity, and inclusion education.

Where do you imagine the most significant challenges will occur? 

Sameera: Each workplace has its own set of challenges, and we will have to tackle gender-based stereotyping from a case-by-case perspective. There has to be a will to find a way!

Raufikat Oyawoye-Salami arrived from Nigeria in 2017 and worked as Field Service and Network Support Engineer. Raufikat's passion for baking won her Season 4 of the Great Canadian Baking Show. She currently lives in Milton with her husband and two young children and works as a Technical Business Analyst.

Why do you think it's important to celebrate women's day? 

Raufikat: I feel that a day that is specific to bringing attention to the struggles and successes of women is an important way to bring women to the forefront every day. 

How would you address the cultural issues that form the background of the gender pay gap? 

Raufikat: The traditional belief that any work done by women is lesser in value is the primary reason for the pay gap. The solution to this is sensitization to the fact work is work, no matter the gender of who performs it. 

What are the most successful strategies for combating feminism's negative stereotypes, particularly at work? 

Raufikat: The work of this should not be done by women but by men in the workplace and other situations. Making women do the job is forcing additional emotional labor on them. Men that identify as feminist allies need to take up the cause and call out their fellow men who perpetuate negative stereotypes 

Have you faced any hurdles in your career due to being a woman? 

Raufikat: Even though I am an engineer, in the workplace among my male colleagues, there was an attempt to pigeonhole me into traditionally 'female roles' such organising refreshments for meetings and taking minutes. I have had to push back, but it's unfortunate that such things occur in modern workplaces. 

What is the essential piece of advice you have been given? 

Raufikat: The most important piece of advice is to always stay true to myself and what I believe in.

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action on women's issues? 

Raufikat: This is everyone's responsibility

What can we do to address gender stereotypes? 

Raufikat: Education is key for everything.

Where do you imagine the most significant challenges will occur? 

Raufikat: The most significant challenges will be people in whom these stereotypes are entrenched, both men and women. There is always resistance to changing the status quo, but persistence will pay off in the end. 

 

Diane Miller was a model, editor/publisher/writer/photographer in Toronto prior to moving to Milton 60 years ago. She now enjoys spending time with her husband, family, four grandchildren, volunteer work, writing, photography, art, and theatre. She also works as Mrs. Claus during the Christmas season.

Why do you think it's important to celebrate women's day? 

Diane: Because women make a significant contribution to our society, in many different ways.

How would you address the cultural issues that form the background of the gender pay gap? 

Diane: These issues would best be addressed in individual cultures according to past understanding and conditioning.

What are the most successful strategies for combating feminism's negative stereotypes, particularly at work? 

Diane: For women to confidently be who they are and not to buy into radically motivated campaigns.

Have you faced any hurdles in your career due to being a woman? 

Diane: No, I have not felt any barriers; being a woman has been an asset to me. I love being a woman.

What is the essential piece of advice you have been given? 

Diane: Be yourself, be honest, be fair. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so, find the answer, and then offer correct information. If you make a mistake, admit it, don't try to 'weasel' your way out of it. People will sense this.

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action on women's issues? 

Diane: A woman must first be fair and worthy of that honour. Expectations will often result in things going their way or not. Men who do not have their own 'issues' can often help.

What can we do to address gender stereotypes? 

Diane: Gender neutrality.

Where do you imagine the most significant challenges will occur?

Diane: Among our leaders anywhere and everywhere. It is impressive just how many women have achieved powerful positions. If women had more influence in the past, things might be very different today.


Jenny Panda is a retired teacher,artist,poet and author of several  children’s books. She has volunteered for over 15 years at Martindale Gardens Seniors’ Residence in Milton. She writes for the Milton Villager Magazine.

Why do you think it's important to celebrate women's day? 

Jenny: Some women in the world today are not thought to be equal to men. This is a religious and or cultural thing that will be hard to change. But having a women's day emphasizes the importance of women and gives them the opportunity to be on "center stage."

How would you address the cultural issues that form the background of the gender pay gap? 

Jenny: I guess it takes time and constant nudging of management - and recognizing that many managers are women.

What are the most successful strategies for combating feminism's negative stereotypes, particularly at work? 

Jenny: Education

Have you faced any hurdles in your career due to being a woman? 

Jenny: No, I haven't faced any barriers. 

What is the essential piece of advice you have been given? 

Jenny: Everyone is important in their own way.

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action on women's issues? 

Jenny: Everyone 

What can we do to address gender stereotypes? 

Jenny: Education and Respect

Where do you imagine the most significant challenges will occur? 

Jenny: In the home


Prafulla Vyas is a retired Special Education English and ESL teacher, an aspiring author, and a poet. She has been a Canadian citizen for 40 plus years and loves to stay in Milton. 

Why do you think it's important to celebrate women's day? 

Prafulla: In the past, women have been treated like chattels, goods to be bargained at a flesh market. They have been sold as mere slaves and nothing more. Since then, women have worked hard and fought for their rights to vote and to be seen. We must never forgot the sacrifices and the hardships endured by these women. Therefore, it's important to celebrate Women's Day every year.

How would you address the cultural issues that form the background of the gender pay gap? 

Prafulla: It's more difficult for women in the minority, women from India, and the whole of Asia. They carry an added burden of being non-white and therefore assumed illiterate. We have to fight again for our rights at work. Demand equal pay for jobs taken by men and refuse work that is inferior to us. Sometimes it's not possible to quit a low-paying job, but make a noise; otherwise nobody will care. 

What are the most successful strategies for combating feminism's negative stereotypes, particularly at work? 

Prafulla: We have come a long way, from the 1950 workplace environment where women had to prove their virginity before being hired as a secretary. God forbid if she placed her ambition higher than that. At least we are not slapped on the bum for doing a good job. We should always be proud of being a woman, even if you are labeled as a feminist. Any woman who speaks out is nothing but a selfish bitch and a feminist.

Have you faced any hurdles in your career due to being a woman? 

Prafulla: Luckily, I have not faced any barriers in my career. 

What is the essential piece of advice you have been given? 

Prafulla: Being a wife and a mother took all my time. The most important advice I was given was staying home and not interfering in men's business. Lucky for me, I didn't take that advice.

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action on women's issues? 

Prafulla: We are all equally responsible. 

What can we do to address gender stereotypes? 

Prafulla: Educate and motivate young girls.

Where do you imagine the most significant challenges will occur? 

Prafulla: The most significant challenges will occur when women will strive to compete with men as equals and leave behind their duties of wife and motherhood. If women are not appreciated for their work in the homes, then a huge gap will be created between working women and those who choose to stay home and raise children.

 

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