By SILVIA PIKAL
Tina Tchen, who worked as Obama’s chief advocate for women and girls, says social change happens when people come together to improve the lives of others in their communities.
“Real social change happens in living rooms and school districts, not in Washington or Ottawa,” Tchen says.
Speaking at the Canadian Women’s Foundation Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary on October 26, Tchen says gender discrimination is still present, but progress is made when individuals stand up and speak out about issues that matter to them.
During her eight years in the White House, Tchen served as special assistant to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. She led the White House Council on Women and Girls and the first-ever White House summit on Working Families, advocating for gender equality and diversity.
Tchen says it’s important to keep talking about gender equality in our families and communities, and that one of the next steps for advancing gender equality in North America is to diminish the wage gap and support working families with paid leave and childcare.
“We cannot continue to organize workplaces that fail to recognize the demands on families today. Women have to make difficult decisions between work and family when they’re the most productive. Men also benefit from balancing their lives.”
What are three things Calgarians, and Canadians, can do right now to effect social change in our communities?
1. People have to come together and reach out to one another. Get together through a house party or in a school or through an organization like the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
2. Identify what the key issues are and what’s important to you. Being engaged is how change happens. You may be passionate about school issues, or parks, or what’s happening downtown – there’s no issue too small.
3. People, women in particular, need to have a voice and speak up. What happens infrequently is people stepping up and going to their Members of Parliament and voting. Make your voice heard.