“It’s okay to be an angry woman. Anger doesn’t have to be negative, it can be a positive catalyst for change”
Greenwood alumnus Genevieve Westrope ‘08 started off our Women’s Week assembly with a story about a volunteer trip she took to Kenya when she was a teen. One day, she was driving down a dirt road in the back of a cattle car and noticed a young girl selling bananas on the side of the road. She immediately thought to herself, “Why isn’t this girl in school?” Genevieve asked the driver what she was doing and he replied, “She needs to support her family.” Unable to take her mind off of what she witnessed, “I knew I needed to make a difference,” she said.
After Genevieve graduated from Greenwood, she earned a BA in English Literature at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and later obtained her BEd from the University of Ottawa.She then went on to complete an MEd and knew from previous volunteer experience that she wanted to pursue a career in global education.“I wanted to find a way to ensure all children had access to school,” she said.
Once she finished her master’s, she began working with The Unmentionables, a non-profit that strives to raise awareness and provide resources for reproductive health in displaced communities. She spent her first three months living in Greece where she opened The Unmentionables Resource Center, a community education space in Athens for displaced populations in camps and around the city. At the centre, she created a sexual and reproductive health curriculum for women refugees. “Sex education is one of the most important topics to learn about. When you learn to empower your body, you learn safe practices,” Genevieve says. Her program in Athens allowed women to become leaders in their communities and earn a living wage. “I was truly touched by the amount of participation and compassion these women showed. Like every woman, they have a voice that needs to be heard.”
Genevieve encouraged everyone to use Women’s Week as a way to show how resilient, brilliant and courageous women are and that we should always empower one another and lift each other up.
Followed by Genevieve's inspiring talk, Greenwood’s Diversity Committee hosted a variety of activities throughout Women’s Week. There were morning activities in the Lodge, a film screening during lunch and a menstrual product drive. This drive encouraged staff and students to donate menstrual products to Sistering, an organization that supports marginalized at-risk women in the Toronto area. By the end of the week Greenwood had boxes upon boxes full of products.
Everyone in the Greenwood community recognized the importance of unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action during Women’s Week. A special thank you to the Diversity Committee for organizing a great week!