The theme of our latest issue of SHE magazine is empowered decisions. So we invited members of the Canadian Women’s Foundation community to tell us about a decision that made them feel bold, courageous, and independent!
Take a look, be inspired, then tell us about your own empowered decision in the comments section!
Jody Perley, Team Lead, Wholesale Accounting, Agrium, Calgary, AB
The most empowered decision I have made is to not have children. Although I have always known I didn’t want children, the internal and societal pressure was enormous when I reached my mid-30s. I finally embraced the fact that, for me, having children because I might regret not having them later in life was not a good enough reason. Once my husband and I made the decision, we have never looked back and I love the life we have made for ourselves.
Jessie Hemphill, Councillor, District of Port Hardy, BC
In 2011, at age 27, I decided to run for town council in Port Hardy. As a young Aboriginal woman, it felt important to bring my perspective to local politics. I thought my lack of experience would be an obstacle, but I learned that council members have diverse backgrounds and levels of experience. It’s been a gift to advocate for youth, women and First Nations people. I recently got re-elected and try to encourage young people to become civically engaged.
Anuradha Dugal, Director of Violence Prevention, Canadian Women’s Foundation, Montreal, QC
My most empowered decision was to have all my children by natural child birth, with a midwife, in a birth centre. In many ways, women are told they cannot control their bodies, and that they should focus on potential negative outcomes. I was lucky to have low-risk pregnancies that were well-suited to an approach where I could make decisions and be in the driver’s seat. I experienced each birth as an internal, shared journey with my children, feeling closer and more connected to them in the process. It helped me trust myself as a mother.
Trish Crowe-Grande, In-Store Marketing Manager, Proctor & Gamble, Toronto, ON
Once my daughters were older and I was working full-time, I finally decided to take the leap and get a university degree. I followed my passion and studied Anthropology at the University of Toronto. My girls say I was a good example to them, juggling family and career but still pursuing my dreams. I am proud of my accomplishments. Those lovely words from my daughters were the greatest gift my education gave me.
Manjit (Jeet) Chand, Co-Founder, Basics for Health Society, Vancouver, BC
When I was 17, I decided to live a different life than the one expected of me. Rather than having an arranged marriage, I took another path full of amazing experiences. I’ve been expelled (after being an honours’ student), disowned by my family (and later reclaimed), travelled the world, graduated university (twice!), trained many people in my field, and started a non-profit. I want all girls to live the lives they dream.
Barbara Gosse, Senior Director, Research, Policy and Innovation, Canadian Women’s Foundation, Toronto, ON
“What’s a nonprofit?” my colleague asked when I announced I was leaving my job in the planning and land development industry to work for a charitable organization. I had decided to follow my heart after volunteering and developing a better understanding of those who are homeless or at risk. My heart now races with excitement when I’m at work. While there are many challenges, there is also great satisfaction in knowing I play a small part in building a path to self-sufficiency for those who face many daily challenges.
Laura Stenberg, Partnerships Writer, Canadian Women’s Foundation, Toronto, ON
One of my most empowered decisions was not, perhaps surprisingly, to start working on a PhD, but rather to finish it. I went to a prestigious school with rigorous professors who left no stone unturned in testing students. I failed one of the early exams and had to rewrite it, and then for years while writing and researching, I felt small, alone, and like my ideas weren’t good enough. I wanted to quit time and time again. But I knew I would regret it. And I knew I could do it. So I stuck with it, supported by family, friends, and colleagues. I successfully defended my thesis last year, and though my degree is in English, even now I can’t find the right words to describe my sense of accomplishment and pride.
Barbara Meens Thistle, Vice President, Corporate Services, ICBC, Vancouver, BC
In 2007, while I was living in Vancouver, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He was my mother’s primary care-giver. I had a great life in Vancouver, so it was a struggle to decide whether to return to Halifax to help out. My husband and I did return, and had to start all over again career-wise. That was hard to do in my 40s. But the quality time we had with our parents was worth it. We returned to Vancouver in 2014 with many precious memories and no regrets.
Dr. Margery Holman, Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Kinesiology, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON
After graduating from university, I started a dream career. Yet, in my mid-30s, as a university coach and athletic administrator, I realized something was wrong with sports – there weren’t many females! I decided to use my role as Director of Women’s Sport to influence change. I launched a course called Gender Issues in Sport. A group of us established an organization called Leadership Advancement for Women and Sport. I began to network more with like-minded people. It’s important to examine our values and live by them, or risk being silenced.
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