Panelists (L-R): Pichoux Nyemba, Samira Hoghoughi, Claudine Mitchell, Marie-Ange Ahinful, Charlotte Massunken, Helen Tang, Gwen Madiba and Gypsy Ghosh.

Leading Ladies Canada celebrates International women’s day

by Olivia Barrett, Editorial Associate

Sunday 10 March 2024

Equity has played, and continues to play, a key role in women’s empowerment and Leading Ladies Canada made sure equity was front and centre at their celebration during Women’s History Month.

Hosted at Blu Legacy Convention Centre on Mar. 10, 2024, guests at the Leading Ladies Canada’s International Women’s Day: Embrace Equity event were treated to enlightening panel discussions and entertaining performance with countless opportunities to socialize and network. As they made their way into the event and sparking conversations, the room filled with laughter and the buzz of conversations as energetic music played in the background. 

As the event began, Charlotte Massunken, the Vice Chair of Leading Ladies Canada, highlighted the importance of the event and the need to have events like this.

“Today, we gather to honour the incredible achievements of women from diverse backgrounds and to highlight the ongoing journey toward gender equality,” she said.

The event was a collaboration with the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo and was sponsored by Canadian Heritage.

Joska Kabongo Ngoy, Ambassador for the Democratic Republic of Congo, gave a short speech at the event about the ongoing conflict in the country. He also held a moment of silence for the women and children who had lost their lives.

Ambassador for the Democratic Republic of Congo Joska Kabongo Ngoy and Marie-Ange Ahinful

Many of the other speakers at the event carried some of the sentiments from Ngoy’s speech, highlighting that while women’s rights have come a long way, “the journey to gender equality is not over,” said the founder of Leading Ladies Canada, Marie-Ange Ahinful.

In her speech, Ahinful emphasized the need for equity for all women. “We need to work together to continue to succeed, to be able to work, to be able to have a better, to be able to be successful in everything that we do,” she said.

The Embrace Equity event also featured a panel discussion where panelists discussed the different barriers that women face and the tools they need to overcome them.

The panel featured six influential women in Ottawa: Gypsy Ghosh, director and founder of World Multicultural Festival India; Gwen Madiba, a social entrepreneur; Helen Tang; founder and CEO of HT Real Estate; Claudine Mitchell, president of the Jamaican Ottawa Community; Samira Hoghoughi, a psychology professional and social activist; and Pichoux Nyemba, founder and CEO of Dinamique Afro Vision.

Some panelists spoke about the role of education in helping women progress. “I think one of the first things that the government and the policymakers can do to help increase gender equality is education,” Tang said.

“It’s not only good for the women, it’s good for the men, good for society,” Tang added, explaining that education helps society learn the value of women and their contributions.

Ambassador for the Democratic Republic of Congo Joska Kabongo Ngoy and Gwen Madiba

The role of technology was also a focal point of the discussion, with Mitchell and Madiba explaining its role in the fight for gender equality.

Mitchell explained that education and technology go hand-in-hand and that we should create spaces where “women can learn and share information with technology.” Madiba added to this, explaining that she had seen technology help women and girls start businesses and also advance their education.

As the panel discussion came to a close, Massunken thanked the panellists, adding their “insights and empowerment have enlightened many of us.”

Poonam Goel was another speaker at the event. She talked about the importance of not letting discussions around women’s rights and gender equality fade after International women’s day. “Our stories don’t end here,” she said.

The Age of Elegance of QiPao Group

Throughout the rest of the event, attendees were treated to several cultural performances from various dance groups, including Strides in Dance School and The Age of Elegance QiPao Group.

At the end of the event, Leading Ladies Canada surprised attendees with a special performance from Ramesha Drums, a group of Burundian drums. Their performance captivated the audience, bringing many attendees to their feet.