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 County Women’s Day events celebrate women past, present and future

Story and photos by Thomas Goyer
Women in Prince Edward County gathered in several locations Sunday to share the International Women’s Day message for 2020 that an equal world is an enabled world.

About 30 women met at the Picton Public Library to hear County councillor Kate MacNaughton speak, and to create signs for a quick march through town.

“We need to be putting forward a strong feminist voice that teaches that feminism isn’t something to be afraid of; to show that it is a push for equity,” MacNaughton said, adding that a lack of female representation still affects women.

Kate MacNaughton

“When we don’t see ourselves represented, or taken seriously it really diminishes our confidence as we step forward.” MacNaughton is one of two female County councillors, with Janice Maynard.

Increased unity, she said, will help the cause.

“The more we collect our voices together, the more we build critical mass as members of a diverse society, and the more we see our faces sitting at the table making decisions the more we move forward as a society.”

McNaughton also spoke about what she called ‘generational dismissal’ which involves different generations of feminists not agreeing on values or methods of the movement.

“We have to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,” she said, sharing her frustration with how women’s equality is still a struggle.

“Diversity shouldn’t touch on gender that much because we are half the planet. We are not a different species,” McNaughton said.

Myrna Mather has been involved in the feminist movement for several decades. She says she became interested in feminism after being a high school councillor in Toronto.

Myrna Mather

“I saw how many young women didn’t pursue the goals that they wanted, and were really held back by so many cultural and community ideas and that their full potential was not being brought out,” she said.

Mather said International Women’s Day is important to celebrate because it can help to show young women that inequality isn’t acceptable.

“We had to show young women that they were just as important and just as needed as men. We have to understand that this whole world needs the total commitment and leadership and strength of women.”

After attendees created signs, all were invited to make their presence known marching along Main Street. One of them was Carolyn Gummo.

“It’s pretty easy to get complacent when you don’t feel gender inequality every day, but we still have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Later in the afternoon Macaulay House held its own event, an open house featuring an accoustic performance by Kat Burns, (Kashka); corn-husk figure making and an historical appearance from Charlotte Macaulay, and her servant Jane.

Jennifer Lyons is the curator for museums in the county and said that the event was created to honour the women who had once lived in the house.

“It’s interesting to look to the past to see what life for women was like,” she said.

Tammy Lloyd, of Lady Victorian Historical Presentations, was in character as Charlotte Macaulay.

Tammy Lloyd, of Lady Victorian Historical Presentations, was in character as Charlotte Macaulay.

“In the 1850s women weren’t even persons. We had a defined role in society that was restrictive,” she said, adding the event showcased how far women’s right have come in Canada.

“It goes to show how far we have come,” she said. “We still have a long way to go but it’s been an amazing progression to watch and learn about.”

She also says it is important to honour women who helped the feminism movement.

“I hope people that come can understand the hard work that women have done to get us where we are today,” she said.

The corn husk doll, a traditional craft of North America’s Northeastern Indigenous peoples, does not have a face. One explanation is that one of the Three Sisters (Spirit of Corn), made a doll out of her husks to entertain children. The doll had a beautiful face, and began to spend more time focused on her vanity than with children. As a result, the doll’s face was erased. These dolls also became popular with settler children.

A guest at both celebrations noted the attendance at the events was a great sign for feminism.

“It shows we aren’t giving up equality.”

Women, and men, attending an International Women’s Day fundraising event at the Drake Devonshire Sunday night raised $6,000 for tomorrow’s women – participants in the Reaching for Rainbows after school program at St. Andrew’s Church in Picton, where vulnerable girls aged six to nine gain self-esteem and confidence.

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