Women's time to thrive

About 100 women and men braved the elements in Kelowna, Thursday, for a message of hope and empowerment.

Her International, a charity that helps marginalized women and girls in Canada and Nepal, hosted the event in Stuart Park (and others around the world) as part of International Women's Day.

The first Women's Day since the rise of the #MeToo movement followed a similar theme.

"If we break it down to the why, the why of this movement, and why is this happening right now, it's because it's calling us to evolve to a place where there's space for everyone. And, where everyone has a chance to thrive," said spokesperson Tamara McLellan.

"You are taking part in something that is much, much bigger than what is happening here."

A number of prominent women, political and business leaders, and agency managers shared stories.

"We are strong, we are powerful," said Westbank First Nation Chief Roxanne Lindley.

"We are born leaders. We are leaders in our community, but the sad reality is, when it comes to seats of power, women are grossly under-represented," said Coun. Mohini Singh.

She said she's proud of the fact half of Kelowna's eight councillors are female – "and the other half is made up of men who support strong women."

Shannon Christensen, founder and executive director of Mamas for Mamas, said it's time for women to raise the bar and take back their place in the world as leaders.

"We need to raise the collective consciousness of the female uprising that is happening right now, right here, not just in our community, not just in Canada, but all over the world, because people are taking notice.

"I hope one day, when we stand here, no one else has to say, me too."

Karen Mason, executive director of the Kelowna Women's Shelter, said every six days in Canada, a woman is killed by her partner, while one in three women will experience violence or abuse "at the hands of the man we love at some time in our life."

"The time has finally come, and it really is here, to make a chance and, holy mackerel, what a change. We are truly at a tipping point. If we didn't know it before today, we do now."

Kevin Edgecombe, president of Her International, challenged men to step aside and make room for women.

He said men need to fix the problem because they are the ones who created it.

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