Making Windsor better for women

Windsor fares poorly in a March report ranking the best and worst places to be a woman in Canada. Now, a group in Windsor is trying to change that.

Report on gender gap in 26 Canadian cities ranked Windsor 20th

Lisa Milec and Gemma Grey-Hall called a meeting of Windsor women and dozens showed up. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

Dozens of like-minded women met at  NOLA restaurant in Walkerville Tuesday night to brainstorm ways to close the gap on gender equality in the city.

"See if we can move the needle on how to improve women's issues," said Gemma Grey-Hall who co-organized the event with Lisa Milec.

"We want to have a voice," said Milec. "We want to be part of the voice for women in the city."

Windsor fared poorly in a March report ranking the best and worst places to be a woman in Canada.

The fifth annual report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives took a look at the gender gap in 26 Canadian cities, using 18 indicators in five areas — economic security, education, health, leadership and security.

Windsor ranked 20th.

This same report sparked on-going conversations between Grey-Hall and Milec, ultimately producing Tuesday's meeting of women.

"We're half the populations and according to that ranking, we're not doing that great," said Grey-Hall.

The pair turned to Facebook to connect with other women for answers.

"It's exciting because we just threw [the idea of a meeting] out there," said Milec. "We just said, 'Let's see what happens and maybe we'll have 12 people come out.'"

It turns out 151 people were interested in a meeting to try and improve the city for women. More than 30 women showed up to the meeting.

"I think the main issue for us is just realizing that if Windsor is being rated this way and we're proud to be women in Windsor, we need to make a difference," said Milec.

"We need to see something change. How does that rating go away? It's only going to go away if we stop being seen that way."

How do we get there?

While Milec and Grey-Hall admit they've had promising careers, both have seen gaps.

"I have been in positions where I am the only woman on a team," said Milec who works in finance. "It has been part of what I have faced all of my career. I find I don't have a challenge personally but I see [challenges] ... because I don't have that challenge and it exists, then I have a responsibility to do something about it."

Grey-Hall ran in the previous municipal election. She said the city needs to inspire more woman to use their voice inside council chambers.

"I think there are some concerns when it comes to security, when it comes to employment, when it comes to leadership and how women are represented," said Grey-Hall.

A people issue, not just a women's issue

The pair agree everyone needs a voice at the table to create change.

"There are a lot of men who support women," said Milec. "I don't think this is a women's issue, it's an issue for people."

"We need to change culturally in order for there to be not only women inspired to get in to these positions, but also having the right environment to thrive once they get there, so we stay in these positions."

About the Author

Amy Dodge is a video journalist at CBC Windsor.


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