Emma Link (right) speaks about feminism at WE Day Vancouver on Oct. 18 at the Rogers Arena. Standing next to her is host Chloe Wilde. (WE photo)

Emma Link (right) speaks about feminism at WE Day Vancouver on Oct. 18 at the Rogers Arena. Standing next to her is host Chloe Wilde. (WE photo)

HSS student tells Vancouver about fostering gender equality in school

To Emma, men can play a part in feminism and can also benefit from it.

On Oct. 18, Hope Secondary School student Emma Link, 17, got on stage, took a microphone and presented on how she tries to foster gender equality in her school.

Emma spoke about International Women’s Day and her views of present-day feminism at WE Day Vancouver. The event brought together people to “celebrate a year of action that transformed communities and changed lives,” according to their website.

Speaking to The Standard on Tuesday, Emma explained that present-day feminism tries to close the career gaps between men and women in areas such as participation in traditionally male-dominated sectors like the sciences, mathematics, engineering, technology and arts, and also to close the wage gap. Another aspect involves women’s dominance over their body in terms of wearing what they want and not be judged for it, the right to abortion if they feel that is right for them.

To Emma, men can play a part in feminism and can also benefit from it.

Emma said society’s expectations of men to act “strong, tough and masculine” particularly affect young boys.

“I think hyper-masculinity is so damaging to young boys especially, growing up with that idea that you have to be super tough and hyper-masculine in order to be successful in society,” said Emma.

“I think taking it back and saying that you can be whoever you want to be, feel whatever you want to feel and that’s 100 per cent OK.”

Emma celebrated International Women’s Day in school, highlighting how far women’s rights have come and also acknowledging how much more needed to be achieved to bring women on par with men.

She took the opportunity on March 8 to showcase some of the achievements of women, such as Ada Lovelace, an English woman who created the algorithm and the math that went into an early computing machine.

“Not many people know that. They think that Alan Turing was the first person to invent a computer, when really, it was a woman,” said Emma.

She also created conversations in her school about feminism by asking questions on whether students knew what feminism meant and whether they are feminists.

“I think creating that dialogue and that conversation really helps to bring it to people on a more principle and basic level. Makes it more accessible, I think,” said Emma.

Day to day, Emma said she speaks up when conversations take misogynistic and sexist turns and also advocates for equal opportunities for men and women.

“So when they ask, ‘Can we have three strong boys to carry these benches over,’ I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll help with that,’ ” she said.

The biggest challenge for equality lie in gender roles that have existed for a long time.

“It’s kind of entrenched in our society and in families as well. I think that’s the part of the reason why a lot of girls think they aren’t strong enough to do those things, or they can’t do those things,” said Emma.

“I think if we all came together and said this has to stop, we could get it to stop and we could not have to worry about those things that have put women in a box for so long.”



news@hopestandard.com

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