WOOW poised to smash glass ceilings

By Chris Yee
[contributor]

Kari Michaels is one of the three founders of WOOW, and a prominent female figure at Kwantlen and in the KSA.Photo by Kyle Benning

Facing the looming remnants of sexism, Women Organizing Opportunities for Women plans to create dialogue about women’s issues at large and connect female Kwantlen students with local female leaders.

Even the group’s abbreviation, WOOW, seems poised to smash the glass ceiling, its arms flexed and thrust upward in solidarity.

“For those who think women have achieved equal status (at least in North America), I would ask them to look at the lack of female representation in parliament and in high level corporate positions. I would also ask them to look at the statistics on sexual assault and domestic violence and tell me there isn’t a trend in who the victims are,” said WOOW co-founder Kari Michaels of the new club’s rationale, in correspondence to the Runner.

“In Kwantlen’s community specifically, there are culturally repressed women who may not have access to opportunities because they come from a male dominated background, “Michaels continued.

With this in mind, Michaels, along with Ashley Fehr and Reena Bali, decided to start WOOW to address a lack of advocacy at Kwantlen around women’s issues.

“In the last KSA election we saw a lot of sexualizing [of] female candidates in a completely inappropriate manner; it’s clearly something that still needs address,” Fehr said in a message to the Runner.

Fehr added, “We want to see women leaders emerging from Kwantlen. “

“You can easily name 20 male leaders off the top of your head but when it comes to naming 20 female leaders it requires a lot more thinking; you can do it, but it’ll take longer.“

“We want to create a space where female students at Kwantlen are able to connect with each other as well as with local female leaders and develop relationships and mentorships.“

Fehr expects WOOW to be in “full force” in the coming semester, doing monthly dialogues with local women leaders and conducting awareness campaigns.

“We’re reaching out to various MPs, MLAs, businesswomen and other forms of leadership,” Fehr says of WOOW’s planned conferences with female leaders.

Further on, WOOW hopes to set up and work with Kwantlen to create a Women’s Studies minor and set up a Women’s Centre on campus (“a safe place for women [on] campus,” Bali says of the plan.)

While WOOW was founded to address women’s issues at Kwantlen, it is open to anyone who supports the cause, regardless of gender.

A common misconception of feminism, Fehr says, is that it is “about women being more important than men”. Rather, it is about “gender equality and inclusivity in society, “achieved through “break[ing] down barriers women face socially, politically and economically” (as Michaels noted in her message to the Runner defining feminism).

“In no way is Women Organizing Opportunities for Women a club only for female students,” Fehr continued.

“We welcome anyone who wants [to] help foster a progressive campus.”

For more information on Women Organizing Opportunities for Women (WOOW), send an email to kpu.woow@gmail.com.

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