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Celebrate women with pins

Howe Sound Women's Centre leading International Women's Day celebrations

Squamish residents can show support for the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day by picking up ribbons and pins at various Wild at Art events, March 6 to 15. The Howe Sound Women's centre is distributing the pins as part of an awareness campaign and membership drive.

On Sunday (March 8), Squamish joins the world in celebrating International Women's Day, which has been observed since the early 1900s. The day symbolizes how far women around the world have come in their struggle for equality and recognizes the many challenges that remain.

Wendy Saris, Howe Sound Women's Centre Society frontline support worker, said tons of work is still needed to achieve equality for women.

"There are so many ways we need to progress when it comes to helping women balance their lives," Saris said. "We are expected to do so much from working to raising families and it adds a lot of pressure."

According to the 2009 International Women's Day website, women do two-thirds of the world's work but receive only 10 per cent of the world's income. Currently, one year out of college, women earn 20 per cent less than men and 10 years later 31 per cent less.

Quest University is also acknowledging these issues in a production of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues on Thursday (March 12) and Friday (March 13) at 7:30 p.m.

As much a social movement as a play, The Vagina Monologues was first done in 1996 by its creator, Ensler. The Obie-winning play has become an international sensation. The play is now part of fundraisers aimed at fighting violence against women and girls. All proceeds from the Quest production will go to the Howe Sound Women's Centre.

Since 1981, Saris said the centre has provided support for women through various programs - everything from yoga classes to a safe place for abused women. Saris said the work is vast and ongoing.

"Our main mandate is to help women and children in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Sometimes it means speaking on their behalf, offering children's programs, or a transition house for women fleeing abusive relationships," Saris said.

Other times, Saris said the centre is a place for women to talk when they are feeling overwhelmed.

"Generally a lot of pressure falls on women and we want to provide ways to create balance."

Throughout the year, the Squamish Women's Health Network creates workshops to give women the skills necessary to achieve balance.

"We offer ongoing workshops on health related matters from a holistic approach," said Shannon Herdman, workshop organizer.

Clinics such as the recent Mind & Body Healing for Women use experts like Helen Croza of Integral Health Consulting to teach meditation, mindfulness and breath work. The next workshop in May will focus on aromatherapy with details to come.

"The Women's Health Network has been around for a while and serves women in our community," Herman said.

For more information on International Women's Day, log on to www.internationalwomensday.com. To become a member or learn more about the Howe Sound Women's Centre Society, check out www.sea-to-sky.net/women/index.pl/home or call 604-892-5748.