Defence leadership marks International Women’s Day 2019
This past International Women’s Day (internal link), Defence Team members were treated to a powerful line-up of speakers through celebrations held in Ottawa. Deputy Minister of National Defence, Jody Thomas, and Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, joined Commodore Rebecca Patterson, Defence Champion for Women, in setting an upbeat tone for the day’s events.
“We have so many amazing women here at [the Department of National Defence] DND and in the [Canadian Armed Forces] CAF,” stated Ms. Thomas. “And I want to celebrate the great work that they are doing – not just in their jobs, but in the way that they continue to break down barriers in our organization.”
In his opening remarks, Lieutenant-General Wynnyk noted the long history of women in defence and emphasized the importance of a diverse CAF. “Today’s conflicts are incredibly complex… We need the diversity of thought and experience that come with a diverse population in order to find creative solutions and meet those complex challenges.”
The day’s packed agenda included a panel of senior non-commissioned members, most of whom could claim that they were the “first woman to…”, and how they completed that statement was as varied and impressive as each of their lives and careers. The panelists answered questions on a range of topics related to their careers. Ultimately, they agreed that their best advice is for women to be genuine and true to themselves.
The celebration also included a series of kiosks from related National Defence organizations as well as a great list of speakers:
- Isabelle Desmartis, Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology) and Chief Executive Officer of Defence Research and Development Canada, talked about her professional and personal journey that led to her success in the traditionally male-dominated fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
- Lieutenant-Colonel Marie-Ève Begin provided a thought-provoking presentation about the evolution of GBA+ in the CAF, stressing the importance of research and data to inform better planning and follow through on operations.
- Larisa Galadza, Global Affairs, Director General of Peace and Stabilization Operations, described Canada’s role and partnerships in working towards global gender equity through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations.
- Warrant Officer Simon Linklater, co-chair of the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group, provided an insightful talk on “The Importance of Men as Allies”. He touched on the importance of language (“gender is not an insult”), and he highlighted the distinction between the intent and impact of one’s actions.
Over the course of the morning, Commodore Patterson announced the new Integrated Women’s Mentorship Network that incorporates DND and CAF
programs. The Network will soon be available through the Defence Learning Network, and is intended for women mentees who can select from a long list of mentors, both women and men.
According to Commodore Patterson, “I like to believe, as the Defence Champion for Women, that the women in Defence are like Kevlar. We are tough, reliable, resilient, protective, and we make our Defence Team stronger.”
This celebration was one of many held at bases and wings across the country, and elsewhere, to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of Defence Team women.
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