On November 12 at noon, the UTM Womens Centre will offer men the chance to raise awareness for violence against women. Guess how they intend to do this.
The Walk Five Minutes in Her Shoes event puts men in high heels and sends them through an obstacle course near the CCT building and Student Centre. The Womens Centre hopes to raise more than $100 this year, on par with last years profits. The funds will support the Interim womens shelter.
The Womens Centre was founded in approximately 1997. Located in Room 131 in North Building, the centre offers referrals and resources. It also advises women on campus where who seek services regarding issues they may face such as abortion, abuse, or rape. Gyanika Narayanaswamy, the Women Centres volunteer co-ordinator claimed that a lack of publicity and skewed public perception gives people the wrong idea of what the centres mission is. People may assume Womens Centre means active feminism, but were not activists, were a service centre, she said.
The location of their office doesnt help publicity. It is holed up in the North Building, where students in need may have a hard time locating it. Narayanaswamy hopes to move the Womens Centre to the more popular South Building in the future.
Our primary goal for this year is to get the Womens Centre out there. Plans for future services include acquiring counsellors to hold biweekly discussions about various topics such as race, equity and immigration, and how they relate to women. The centre also hopes to hold open dialogues where people can talk about specific issues, and to establish an anonymous question system.
The Womens Centre maintains strong connections with the organizations it offers referrals to, such as the Rape and Crisis Centre of Peel and the Interim Shelter. It also intends to work more with OUT@UTM and the Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre, and has collaborated with the UTM Historical Students Society by sending volunteers to the Gender and Genocide Week.
So far, fifteen men have signed up for Walk Five Minutes in Her Shoes. Narayanaswamy hopes that more will sign up over the week, and that those who have pledged will remain true to their word. Its difficult to get guys. They are skeptical about walking in high heels, Narayanaswamy said.
Later this year, the Womens Centre will hold a memorial for the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique shootings in the last week of November. The Centre will attend International Womens Week at the end of January and Five Days of Activism in February.