INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
By Aditi Sivakumar from Ottawa, Canada
Legacy Award recipient Aditi is a passionate philanthropist and an avid volunteer in her community. She dedicates her time volunteering at eight different social service communities. With over 10,000 hours of volunteering under her belt, Aditi dedicates her time to empowering young people, women and the elderly.
Today, on International Women’s Day she shares her story of driving change and how you can also make a difference.
8 March 2020
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8th across the globe. It is a day of celebrating the achievements of women and girls, and the progress that has been made towards reaching gender equality. It is also a day to reflect and raise awareness regarding the work that still remains to be completed.
The theme for the 2020 International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. The theme emphasizes the importance of acknowledging that we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions, and we can choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias and broaden perceptions to create a more gender-equal world.
Aditi along with the other Legacy Award recipients meeting with HRH The Duke of Cambridge at the Kensington Palace, November 2019
In 2015, the United Nations Members States adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, one of these goals being gender equality. Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and necessary to achieve a sustainable world. However, even today, not a country in the world has achieved gender equality. Currently, there are over 1.8 billion young people worldwide between the ages of 10 and 24. Young people’s ideas are novel, our voices our powerful, and collectively we can drive change. Therefore, engaging, inspiring and empowering young people is key to achieving gender equality.
“The majority of my work revolves around aiding women and girls who are facing violence.“
I believe that gender-based violence is a public health issue as it affects one in three women across the globe, therefore, a majority of my work revolves around aiding women and girls who are facing violence.
I currently serve as a peer supporter within the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, where I provide emotional and social support to women who are facing violence. I am an avid volunteer at the Chrysalis House, which is a shelter for women and their dependents who are facing abuse in their household. I have created various programs within the shelter, including weekly self-care nights, a free academic tutoring service, safe technology workshops, and I facilitate bonding activities between the mothers and children. I plan and execute numerous community-based events to advocate for ending violence against women. These events include vigils for the École Polytechnique Massacre, the Coldest Night of the Year, and the Clothesline Project. I am the founder of the national initiative “My Empowerment Packs: Ending Violence Against Women Edition,” which are transition kits for women leaving domestic violence shelters. Each wellness kit contains one of my community’s first resource booklet, which provides information to services (e.g. housing supports, pregnancy supports, etc.) that women facing violence can access. I was also recently appointed as a SheDecides 25×25 Young Leader, where I will continue to advocate for the restructuring of medical and legal services to better meet the needs of those who are facing domestic violence.
Aditi receiving her Legacy Award at the Painted Hall, November 2019
There are a variety of ways to help forge a more gender-equal world, including volunteering at local organizations that promote gender equality, creating your own initiatives, and continuing the conversation about gender equality past International Women’s Day. In 2030, I envision a gender-equal world, in which all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity, will never be unnecessarily subjected to violence or abuse due to their gender. I believe in a world where women, men and LGBTQ+ communities are treated equitably in terms of safety, security and opportunity.