International Women’s Day is a lot like birthday celebrations that end up stretching out over a month because it’s so hard to bring all of one’s busy friends, from so many different groups, together.
Women on the Hill did manage to get everyone under one roof by hosting a large networking reception Monday at the former bank-turned-government owned Sir John A Macdonald Building on Wellington Street, right by Parliament Hill. More than 600 people accepted their invitation to the belated bash for the March 8th Women's Day.
The crowd was mostly women from politics, public service, non-profit organizations, business, media and academia. As well, there was support from Famous 5 Ottawa and Equal Voice.
The food was catered by Erin Clatney, owner of DISH. Bicycle Craft brewmaster Laura Behzadi and Dominion City Brewing Co. provided the ale while there was vino and bubbly supplied by Prince Edward County female winemakers Mackenzie Brisbois (Trail Estate) and Vicki Samaras (Hinterland).
Earnscliffe Strategy Group principal Velma McColl was on hand to welcome everyone, along with members of the all-party Parliamentary women's caucus, which is chaired by Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP for Ottawa West-Nepean. Maryam Monsef, minister of Status of Women, kept the energy and enthusiasm high as she congratulated all the women "who rock it" in their respective spheres.
Trailblazer Shirley Westeinde, former chair of the Canadian Construction Association and BOMA Ottawa, attended. So did Lisa Delorme, CEO and co-founder of Rent frock Repeat designer dress rental service. Also there were Sharon McGarry, president of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, and Susan Dagg Fulton, executive director of the Women’s Business Network.
Among the speakers was Tonda MacCharles, a veteran journalist with the Toronto Star and vice-president of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery. She was the president until she found herself juggling too many balls, and decided to take a step back.
"It's a great time to be a woman in Ottawa," said MacCharles as she saluted the women in the room and the work they do. “I just want to let you know what has kept me going through 20 years in the Press Gallery, and that's women like all of you."
She also offered this piece of supportive advice: “When it feels like all the balls are falling on your head, reach out, have a coffee, have a lunch, go for a walk, vent, gossip, network, talk. It will get you through the very worst times."