Girls Shaping the Future- Happy International Women's Day!
It’s a wonder how women are so dedicated and amazing at what they do, especially if they’re young. It makes you stop, think, realize and re-evaluate your entire life. It is heart-warming to see a whole new generation of women oozing with knowledge from their ancestors, take over the world, one step at a time.
We had the privilege to talk to two extremely strong female CBU students pursuing what they love; about their life and what being a women actually means to them!
Hannah Kosick, Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environment
Ocean lover, tree hugger, and cat snuggler Hannah Kosick is a 21 year old environmentalist and CBU student studying in the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environment honours program. As a recipient of the 2019 NextGen Cape Breton Unama’ki Vital Award, community volunteerism is at the centre of everything Hannah does. She is currently the co-president of the CBU Environmental Society and the Elected Member Youth for Girl Guides of Nova Scotia. Hannah indulges us about how ‘Girl Guides of Canada surrounds her with incredible women who encourage her every day! Guiding has provided her with many incredible opportunities over the years such as travelling to Churchill, MB and to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, attending leadership conferences, and mentoring youth across the country.’ In 2018, Hannah dedicated over 600 hours of service to ocean health and literacy initiatives across the country.
What's more inspiring than a woman taking an initiative to bridge cultural gaps. Sakshi Upadyay, an avid dancer is currently a part of the Highland Arts Theatre - Tell Your Story Initiative wherein she’s conducting free Bharatanatyam workshops to introduce people to her art form. HAT is a place that already witnesses people of different communities and age-groups coming together to enjoy the theatre arts; Upadyay contributes to the same culture even more. She's a 17 year old, 1st year International student studying Public Administration and Management. She hails from Gujarat, India. Sakshi holds a Bharatnatyam Visharad Purna, which a Hindustani dancer’s degree usually done to attain the status of a professional dancer. Dance being her passion, she has been dancing for the last 11 years. Throughout her school life, she has remarkably managed dance, theatre, karate, and education on her plate. Sakshi has taught Bharatnatyam a couple of times before coming here but is still in awe to continue her passion in this quaint town of Sydney.
Sakshi Upadyay, Public Administration and Management
That being said, we asked both the girls to tell us about the women they were most inspired by; Hannah gave us names of two remarkable environmental activists - Greta Thurnberg and Autumn Peltier. She said “both these women are courageous climate activists that are making waves around the world. Autumn and Greta are filled with compassion, empathy, and conviction. Each and every day they strive to make the world a better place for future generations through peaceful protests and education.” Thurnberg, and Peltier (also known as the “water warrior” are 15 and 13 years old respectively and are fighting against climate change with undaunted spirit. Sakshi hit a little too close to home when she mentioned her mother is the one who inspires her the most. Upadyay tells us about ‘how her mother is a single mother and that she has supported Sakshi throughout everything’. Upadyay aspires to be an independent woman like her.
Hannah raised the idea of intersectional feminism by explaining what feminism means to her, “It is a scope in which women no matter their cultural background, religion/spirituality, race, or gender identity. We need to focus on championing women around the world instead of trying to compete with one another. A win for one woman is a win for all of us and it is important that we support advances in equality no matter the circumstances.” Sakshi enthusiastically backed up the idea of women supporting women by talking about the history of India and how it has progressed from women solely being housewives to women working. This progression didn’t happen overnight. It has been possible because of the women who dared, women who supported women.
It is no surprise that women are faced with stereotypes every single day. The one that particularly gets on my nerves is being told to smile. You wouldn’t pass on that same comment to a ‘guy’ would you? We asked Kosick if there are any assumptions about women that she'd like to change, “One of my biggest gender assumptions that always bothers me is when women are called bossy as opposed to assertive or being a great leader. Growing up, girls are often encouraged to be quiet, agreeable, and passive. When a girl tries to speak out so that her voice can be heard, they are often considered being ‘bossy’. Just because a woman takes on a leadership role does not mean that she is ‘bossy’. It is essential that we encourage women who take on difficult leadership roles instead of trying to bring them down.”
“It is essential for those of us with privilege of any kind to use it to support women not just on this day, but every day!” says Hannah.