NIAGARA — When Julie Rorison reflects on the theme of this year’s Niagara Leadership Summit for Women, she thinks about a future where more women are in engaged in leadership roles across Niagara, whether that be in business, in politics or elsewhere.
“Breaking Barriers” is the theme of the fourth-annual Niagara Leadership Summit for Women, set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Brock University from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rorison, chair of the planning committee, said the focus is empowering women and girls to realize their full potential.
“It’s important we take the opportunity to recognize we have a platform where we can encourage women to get involved in all areas of public life, whether in business, in politics, or elsewhere,” she said. “It’s about creating more gender diversity and equal representation across all platforms.”
Rorison said engaging women is a key piece of the day, and that’s why they’ve organized a special panel to end the event with. Dubbed “Getting Women Involved,” Ruth Unrau will lead the panel featuring Robin McPherson, Tami Jeanneret and Clare Cameron.
“We want to amplify the voices in the room and continue the conversation beyond,” said Rorison.
Unrau is excited to lead the discussion at the event, which attracts hundreds of participants each year. “It’s about education, participation and taking action,” said Unrau. “We want more opportunities for women in leadership.”
A particular emphasis, Unrau said, will be put on next fall’s municipal election. With a year to go, she said she wants to create dialogue on everything from women stepping forward to be candidates, to voter turnout. Studying statistics for St. Catharines, virtually every age demographic has more men going to the polls than women, she said.
“It’s about having a voice in the election. It doesn’t have to be putting your name on the ballot. It’s about having a voice, getting involved and educating yourself,” said Unrau. “If we all get engaged at some level, then I think that’s really breaking barriers and making an impact.”
Beyond politics, she said, it’s also about encouraging participants to find their spark and to get involved in some way, whether it be political, charitable, or in other forms. “Find your passion, learn more about it and find a way in,” said Unrau. “There are so many ways to get engaged.”
Other panel discussion topics include entrepreneurship, mental health, parenting and politics, while workshop topics include Aboriginal community justice, conquering barriers to success, decolonizing language, disability leadership, fair trade, race and racism, self care for caregivers and more.